As I mention software-defined networking (SDN), you would probably think of large data centers. This makes sense because there is a strong association between SDN and cloud data centers, given that the SDN technology was initially adopted and subsequently evolved from these data centers. SDN was the secret sauce that allowed data centers to be more profitable and agile. Therefore, SDN wasn’t something that these data centers wanted to broadly share with the rest of the world. This hindered development of SDN and made it difficult for other types of companies to see the value of SDN.
It has only been within the last two years that SDN technologies have been let out of the solitary confinement of data centers. Open communities such as ETSI-NFV and OPNFV are starting to apply this basic idea of centralized programmability to WAN, Metro and CPE equipment and alternate transports.
As carriers began to take notice, they realized that by using SDN, operators were able to efficiently deliver high quality services to a large end user community without ripping up their hardware on a regular basis. By implementing a virtualized platform, carriers were able to increase network speed and agility, hence enhancing service delivery. This infrastructure update also enabled carriers to address latency constraints and increased ability to solve problems in real-time. These improvements have made their way into the basic fabric of SDN.
Further, carrier networks have extended beyond their own walls to encompass end users. They have extended these SDN/NFV concepts from the WAN to customer on-premise devices. For example, Google rolled out its own next-generation data centers, incorporating SDN and NFV into them. But they also spread these concepts to the general public, providing new services, faster speeds and better user experience.
SDN has expanded outside the data centers to end users and has offered countless opportunities for other markets. However there has been some hesitation from enterprises, since adopting SDN means a new area to manage, new responsibilities and a whole new set of programming rules to learn. As a respite, new applications are beginning to emerge that will make the value proposition much stronger for the enterprises. For example, hybrid data centers allow enterprises to farm out services from an enterprise’s private data center to a public one and back. With SDN implemented, it becomes very easy to move that data and workloads around to the place best-suited to execute them.
But why stop at just enterprise adoption? How about applying SDN techniques to industrial, commercial and the various markets served by distributors? Due to its flexibility, SDN offers countless opportunities for all these markets. Once its reins come off and the industry becomes increasingly aware of its advantages, the possibilities are endless!