At the NAB Show, the global tech conference that I attended in Vegas last week, one of my manufacturing partners, an up and coming switching vendor, Arista Networks, was talking a lot about an emerging concept in IT networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN). This got me thinking a lot about recent shifts in the storage and networking industry specifically cloud storage platforms like AWS. Because SDN was a very hot topic at the conference it intrigued me to do some further research on it. This morning I came across a press release about SDN from a Networking company called Enterasys.
Essentially SDN is a new methodology of building computer networks and provisioning IT resources where different elements of the network can now be separated via software application to create a more efficient and cost-effective network. SDN simplifies networking by allowing the administrator to abstract the control plane from the data plane by making these elements software based instead of hardware based. Tech giants like Facebook and Google are both already using this new technology to optimize the efficiency of their networks and reduce costly hardware purchases. Essentially, SDN shifts the focus of network building and administration away from costly and complicated hardware such as switches and gives these capabilities to a piece of software. SDN allows for the separation of network elements, enabling network administrators to “provision network connections on the fly” instead of manually configuring network access policies on physical hardware like switches.
SDN is the logical extension of other emerging IT concepts such as cloud computing/storage and virtualization to the network whereby the focus is shifting away from local physical systems to a more efficient, distributed, remote, virtual, and software based methodology of provisioning and controlling IT assets and delivering data and applications across the network. Like cloud and virtualization, SDN allows the network admin to have programmable central control of network traffic without having physical access to the network’s hardware devices. This allows for remote configuration and monitoring of networks.
This new technology bridges “the gap between business, technology, and individual needs by understanding the relationship between these areas and mapping technology resources to each person, securely and in real-time, based on their role in the company.” This brings about the idea of ‘user personalized networks’ whereby more efficient and cost effective allocation of IT resources can be realized especially in networks that are large, dynamic, cloud-based, and virtualized. This facilitates greater flexibility and scalability of networks, which, in turn, creates immense business value for IT organizations. SDN maximizes the value of networks “through centralized visibility and control” of networking devices and traffic. The features of SDN “improve application delivery for dynamic environments leveraging cloud, virtualization, and server/storage consolidation.” Enterasys posits that models like these, where IT resources are commoditized, or the consumerism of IT is an emerging industry that could be worth $3.7B by 2016. In essence, SDM is the new direction of computer networking. SDN is like virtualization for networks whereby administrators can logically abstract network resources and policies from the physical devices on the network using a software-based solution.
So far we have learned a lot about software systems and applications that help businesses operate. Now I’d like to talk more about the physical hardware infrastructure that supports software. All software programs must “live on” a piece of physical or virtual hardware and I’d like to explore this relationship further. Because my company is focused on hardware systems I’d like to learn more about this area of IT.
Specifically I’d like to learn more about data storage(SAN vs. NAS), File Systems, and virtualization technologies, why they’re important in enterprise IT, and how they work. I’d also love to talk more about the business application of storage and networks as they relate to things like disaster recovery(DR), Business Continuity, and data analytics. Another hot topic in IT that I’d like to learn more about is HADOOP open source software and its application in processing vast quantities of data. It is my understanding that HADOOP is a very useful platform to create business value out of massive quantities of data such as analyzing marketing and advertising data to inform solid business decisions about budget allocation and marketing strategies.