In the digital economy, users demand quick and easy access to applications, services, and IT infrastructure. This demand puts the onus on administrators and system designers to enable access to these resources as close to real-time as possible. It also puts pressure on to keep the networks providing these assets running smoothly and continuously.
This highly demanding IT environment is also diversifying. The use of public cloud services, edge clouds, and remote working practices stress the limits of legacy systems and hardware. However, new technologies and methods are providing ways to improve traditional network technologies and network architecture.
In this article, we’ll be looking at several ways in which this can occur.
Software is Expanding the Possibilities of Hardware
Traditional network architectures rely on specific sets of hardware with fixed functionality. Dedicated devices such as routers and switches must create all the necessary connections and run the network. This approach is often expensive and difficult to scale. It also limits network management to a fixed location.
Software-Defined Networking or SDN takes a digital approach to network resource provisioning, rather than relying on physical infrastructure. Using application programming interfaces (APIs), developers can directly configure the network, free of the protocols required by traditional networking.
Administrators can manage network traffic flows under SDN from a central console, giving greater visibility and control. SDN assists with network segmentation and facilitates data-intensive applications like virtualization and analytics.
Three Types of Virtualization for Improved Performance
Most organizations are under pressure to deliver new applications or services on time. Network virtualization assists by creating identical development, testing, and production environments for quality assurance purposes.
Using the cost-effective overlay virtualization approach, you can create virtual networks on top of existing physical ones. And you can deploy these software abstractions incrementally with no changes required to the physical network.
Increased efficiency and configuration are possible if you use fabric-oriented virtualization to operate your network hardware. These virtual networks and the applications you run on them are logically isolated, allowing you to program and manage them individually.
With Network Function Virtualization (NFV), you can deploy Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) as software on virtual machines. By eliminating the need for dedicated network appliances, you’re able to run network functions on standard commodity hardware. Essentially this reduces costs and increases the accessibility of these virtualized functions to your various applications.
Taking Software to the Wider Area
Using a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), organizations can connect their resources at different locations. Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and broadband make it possible for you to link several sites over a wide geographical area. A software-defined approach means you won’t have to manage or maintain a ton of hardware. And with SD-WAN offerings typically coming from a service provider, deployment becomes effortless too.
Looking to the Future with 5G SDN
Software-Defined Networking or SDN lays the foundations for the network architecture that will support the coming 5G ecosystem. 5G SDN will play a critical part in the design of 5G wireless networks. This software approach will likely make the 5G networks more programmable and flexible.
In combination with VNF and NFV virtualization techniques, 5G SDN should also provide new network services and automation. Since the 5G SDN architecture is dynamic and easy to manage, new business models and cost-efficiency mechanisms should follow.
Getting the Widest Possible View
In line with many organizations today, you may struggle to integrate your traditional on-premise infrastructure with public cloud, edge, and containers. A comprehensive network automation solution will enable you to manage all the different elements of your advanced enterprise network through a single pane of glass.
With FusionLayer, you’ll have a network source of truth, enabling your organization to manage all aspects of your infrastructure and services in a single unified system. FusionLayer facilitates automatic provisioning of subnets, IPs, VLANs, and resolvable DNS names for your containers and virtual workloads. This network source of truth empowers you with visibility and control -- avoiding the dangers of manual processes and downtime.
By Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc. – Juha Holkkola is the Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc. An inventor with several patents in the US and Europe, he is an advocate of technology concepts with tangible operational impact. Juha is an active proponent of emerging technology trends such as cloud computing, hybrid IT and network functions virtualization, and a regular speaker at various industry events.