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Mirantis Training Blog: What are the Benefits of SDN?

Chad Miller - March 30, 2016
Welcome to Mirantis OpenStack Training’s monthly Q&A section. Here our instructors field questions about all aspects of OpenStack, and every month we'll be sharing some of those answers with you here on the blog. If you have a question that you would like a Mirantis technical instructor to answer, feel free to post your comments in the section below. We will do our best to cover your question in next month's post.

What are the Benefits of Using SDN?

In the cloud service space it’s important to remain adaptable. Software Defined Networking allows administrators to quickly respond to changing business requirements by modeling a physical networking environment into software. This grants customers with a range of flexibility, allowing virtualized workloads to be moved without complex planning. Below we have highlighted the main points as to why many organizations have adopted SDN solutions for their environments.
  1. Holistic Network Management: SDN centralizes the control of a network, through the SDN controllers or “brains” of the network. SDN controllers offer a centralized view of the network and enables administrators to dictate high level commands that are translated into lower network functionality. Instead of fitting pieces a bit at a time into your infrastructure, SDN allows you to plan your network at the software level and get as complex as you want without worrying about re-cabling at the hardware level. This can be great for network or subnet isolation, or just re-subnetting smaller parts of the network that maybe outgrew what they were originally designed for without letting things get too messy.
  2. Security: SDN usually provides a more granular security model than traditional hardware/wired security. For instance, NIC validation is not common on commodity hardware for wired networks, but easily implemented in SDNs without impacting existing networks.
  3. Centralized Provisioning: With hardware networks, provisioning a new network could mean programming multiple VLANs/VxLANS/etc on multiple switches (possibly from multiple vendors) but with SDN it's almost trivial to set up completely isolated networks over existing copper.
  4. Efficiency: SDN can reduce downtime because everything is done at the software level. In general, hardware doesn't change and (if it's not constantly plugged and replugged) network cables continue to be fine for very long periods of time. Altering networks by changing SDN configurations can be an order of magnitude faster than swapping cables around on routers and switches. With SDN, you never have to touch the cables and can usually solve subnetting issues much faster than tracing cables around buildings.
  5. Cost Reduction: SDN does not require a large investment, and it will help lower operating and expenses. Since SDN further automates the provisioning of a network, this reduces the required human effort helping to reduce capital expenses.
In general, the management of a physical router’s configuration can be tedious. Most organizations require the management of multiple physical routers, which makes the job of the administrator even more complicated. Software Defined Networking simplifies management under a centralized control console.

If you have additional questions, feel free to post a comment below. For all questions regarding OpenStack, take a look at the OpenStack courses that Mirantis Training offers.

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