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Software Defined Networking – 5 best practices

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Software Defined Networking, (SDN) provides cost-effective, easily adaptable management of network control and forwarding functions. In simple terms, SDN is the physical separation of the network control plane from the forwarding plane, where a control plane controls multiple devices. Software Defined Networking is an emerging technology and therefore lacks long term examples to be used as a guideline for success. Greg Stemberger, Principal Solutions Architect, has laid out what he has seen in his experience with SDN, creating a five step process for best practices of implementation.

The first step, as it most often it with any new technology employment it to define usage. Bringing in a new technology for your company is only helpful if the technology fits the needs of your organization. Determine the problems your company is facing and proceed to evaluate whether the desired technology will be able to handle and alleviate such problems accordingly. No one technology will be able to solve all your problems. Identify specific problems you believe SDN can fix, specifically just one problem at a time. As Stemberger suggests, “A single use case with tangible, positive results, offers more reliable, measurable outcomes than implementing SDN across your entire network.”

It is crucial to assemble a cross functional team with SDN. Utilizing SDN in the correct manner means having a skilled team with a united approach. A team of well versed members is the best way to manage SDN. You need people who can combine skill sets to work together. Increasing efficiency lets you IT staff spend more of their time on you IT infrastructure rather than operational overhead. Get everyone on the same page, toward a universal goal.

Remember to test in a less critical network area. This is common sense for most. Find a less critical network that you can play with first before moving to your network. This way you avoid uprooting your entire network and facing the wrath of angry coworkers. A small-scale SDN test allows the flexibility to learn and make mistakes.

After testing for a while, make sure to go over the data you gather and review your test case. Did it solve your current problem? Is it a wise investment to expand SDN to the entire network? Do you have the infrastructure ready on both a personnel and technical level?

As a gentle reminder that it’s okay to stay on the cautious side, it is suggested that you gain maturity before expanding deployment.  Rather than diving head first, proceed slowly and make the implementation gradual. Even if the SDN went better than expected in one area of the network, this is not a gurantee that the entire network will function at the same caliber. How will SDN performance change across higher trafficked areas of the network?

These steps are meant to evaluate risks, gain perspective and ensure efficiency. In order to get the most out of Software Defined Networking, it’s best to get all your ducks in a row.


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: 5 steps to launching Software Defined Networking