How and Why Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Works

Software-defined networking is big news at the moment, and its prevalence is growing rapidly. Recent reports suggest that the market for software-defined networking will reach USD 32.7 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.0%.

The soaring demand for this relatively new type of networking is being led by a surge in the data requirements of all kinds of different businesses, along with a need for increased speed at more affordable prices. And these are two factors on which software-defined networking really delivers.

So what is software-defined networking, and how does it work in practice? We asked our experts for the inside scoop on how SDN works, and why it’s proving so successful for expanding businesses.

What is Software-Defined Networking?

Software-defined networking takes network services and network hardware, and separates them. In doing so, it allows IT professionals to start designing and building their own networks, which can be programmed according to their specific requirements and aren’t limited by the equipment they already have.

The practise is an answer to several problems that businesses traditionally faced when the time came to increase their capabilities. To keep services running quickly and smoothly for users, organisations historically had to increase bandwidth. And this wasn’t always a simple step. It would usually come at a cost, and it tended to be fairly rigid.

Software-defined networking has turned this process into something altogether more flexible. With software-defined networking, bandwidth can be added as required, and users never experience any dragging speeds or inadequate service during busier periods.

Companies using SDN are no longer limited by their existing infrastructure, and they have far more options at their fingertips when it comes to facilitating cloud-based services and other high-bandwidth operations.

Price is another factor that sets software-defined networking apart. Its inherent flexibility means that any waste is eliminated, meaning a significant cost saving to the business over time. Software-defined networking is capable of making decisions on optimum data routing, and it stops organisations paying for bandwidth that isn’t being used.

What are the components of SDN?

Software defined networking is a combination of 3 parts that can be located in the same physical location but don’t always need to be.

These are:

  1. Applications that relay information about the network and check resource availability or quota.
  2. SDN managers that communicate with the applications to identify where data is.
  3. Networking devices that receive instructions from the managers about how to direct the data.

Why Software-Defined Networking is the on the rise

Companies that used to be able to run their services quite reliably on traditional networks are now struggling to do so. And that’s largely down to the rapid changes we’ve seen in how we use, manage and process data. This is where SDN comes into play.

The past few years have been a period of incredible innovation, with a vast number of new apps, services and cloud-based computing options being launched. Companies and consumers have grasped these new opportunities with both hands, adopting a host of exciting services designed to make life easier. But this influx of software, apps and mobile devices has of course led to a massive increase in data and network traffic, and that’s something that IT professionals have had to facilitate.

Cloud-computing is a key driving force behind the rise in data and network traffic, and this is something we can expect to see continuing over the coming months and years. A 2019 survey by Rightscale on the State of the Cloud found that growing numbers of companies are now using what’s been described as a multi-cloud strategy, with 84% of surveyed companies reporting that their IT infrastructure was being organised in this way.

The increasing number of internet-connected devices that we use in day to day life is another big driver behind the need for more flexible, and affordable networking solutions. It has been estimated that there are 127 new Internet of Things devices connected to the web every second. By 2025, it’s expected that over 75 billion of these devices will be connected. So, data and network traffic will be rising for some time to come. And software-defined networking just might hold the key to ensuring that this traffic doesn’t cause any problems.

Three key advantages of Software-Defined Networking

The rise of software-defined networking isn’t just down to the increasing data and network traffic requirements of businesses. It’s also happening because this new form of networking comes with a whole host of great benefits, which IT professionals are beginning to shout about. Take a look at the three key advantages of software-defined networking and think about how a switch to SDN might benefit your business.

  1. Connections: With software-defined networking, businesses can make use of several connections to ensure that they get the best of their preferred collection of cloud providers. Many businesses are already using cloud-based services from multiple companies, and software-defined networking makes it possible for these organisations to get the full support of a large number of different connections.
  2. Latency: Problems caused by latency can be more easily avoided when software-defined networking is used. That’s because the networking provision allows professionals to see expected latency before selecting a route. This is particularly advantageous for companies whose users prioritise speed first and foremost.
  3. Usability: Professionals can get to grips with how software-defined networking works quickly, and that’s largely down to how user-friendly the interfaces are. Don’t underestimate the importance of this; usability is crucial in ensuring that teams get the most out of their networks, and it also helps businesses to avoid costly troubleshooting and training bills. Many user interfaces provide crystal clear visibility on everything that matters, from network APIs and route options, to the automation of different tasks.

Further Benefits of a Software Defined Network

  • SDN decreases complexity and makes operations much simpler with controlled data and automated solutions. 
  • Third party integrations means a faster market delivery with API usage.
  • Remove the manual configuration and create efficient networks that are programmable. 
  • Use SDN to focus service delivery, cloud automation and configuration management.

Software-defined networking is fast becoming the go to approach to network management, for businesses all over the world. Providing plenty of benefits over more traditional networking options, SDN is an affordable, reliable and flexible option which can really help companies to grow.

While traditional networking approaches have tended to limit options, and put the brakes on rapid growth, SDN does the opposite. It’s a way of networking which puts businesses in control. By adapting to the ever changing needs of different organisations, software-defined networking helps to facilitate changes to network traffic and data requirements, as and when these are needed. It’s already proving highly effective for companies looking for complete flexibility – and it can be surprisingly affordable too.

If you’d like to learn more about how SDN works, and discuss whether it might suit your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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