Software Defined Networks

12/6/11 2:18 PM Gaynor Hay Managed Services

One of the most innovative and exciting approaches to managed services to emerge in recent years is the concept of the software defined network.  According to industry insiders, this approach to computing may come to be seen as the true revolution that causes cloud networking and virtualization to spread like wildfire.

What is a Software Defined Network?

The term itself appears to be an oxymoron because we are used to thinking of networks as defined by its hardware.  In a software-defined network, however, the routers and switches are told what to do by a software element that is centrally managed, making it a perfect fit for a managed services approach to IT solutions. 

The central controller in a software-defined network is capable of gathering data in real time so that it can maintain a view of the entire network at once.  This holistic view allows the controller to ‘see’ the network paths needed for the efficient flow of data.  This flow is then distributed as needed to the router and switches under the control of the central management element. 

According to Mark Fabbi, a software analyst familiar with such systems, "This is an idea that had been around for a decade or more. You've got switches and a fabric-based capability in the core.  And then you have all of these devices talking to a controller, and the controller determines paths and what services to apply."

The idea may not be new, but it is only in the new world of managed services that can such a vision truly come into its own.


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