Getting the most out of software-defined infrastructures

Khoo Boo Leong
Networks Asia
As next generation software-defined networking (SDN) solutions emerge, organizations planning to deploy new web-scale applications, virtualized environments and software-defined infrastructures need to find new ways to scale and optimize performance.
 
Specifically, they need to enable virtualized and software-defined environments to optimize bandwidth, reduce latency and increase I/O operations per second (IOPS).
 
“Essentially, the promise of SDN is to enable organizations’ networks to keep pace with highly virtualized server and storage environments and eliminate a bottleneck for provisioning new applications and services,” says Bob Laliberte, senior analyst from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “Legacy networks utilize an inefficient node-by-node management paradigm, in which manual processes make moves, adds and changes time consuming and inefficient.”
 
SDN reality check
These challenges explain why comprehensive SDN deployments aim to not only reduce costs but also optimize the virtualized environments they support and accelerate IT’s responsiveness to the business. IT administrators eye SDN’s centralized control, programmability, and the automation of change and configuration tasks.
 
For networks 10GbE and beyond, the ability to accurately control and apply programmability at the I/O system level becomes important. This requires greater visibility into the traffic and the ability to inject services from a central control plane to drive efficiencies and reduce errors.
 
“[With] virtualization on its own, you just scale efficiency,” says Shaun Walsh, senior vice president of Corporate Development and Marketing at Emulex. “But when you add software-defined capability, which is where the virtual network functions, I can change the security level, the application delivery speed and latency.”
 
These capabilities can be achieved with unified, end-to-end network fabrics, including intelligent I/O systems. Virtual network fabrics (VNFs) – virtual networks layered transparently over traditional networking infrastructure – are key enablers of SDN. The VNF facilitates software automation needed for IT administrators to set up and dynamically manage rapid and large numbers of virtual machine (VM) relocations and ensure VM network connectivity and mobility.
 

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