Shift to SDNs Starts to Gain Some Momentum

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    Interest in Software-Defined Networking Rising Sharply

    While it’s clear that software-defined networking (SDN) as a technology remains somewhere between the leading and bleeding edge, that doesn’t mean IT organizations are not making fairly aggressive plans to implement it.

    A new survey of 110 IT executives conducted by Silver Peak Systems, a provider of wide-area network optimization software and appliances, finds that 59 percent of them said that SDN technologies would be important to their IT strategies going forward. In fact, 40 percent of them said they have begun implementing their SDN strategy, while 17 percent said they would implement SDN within the next 12 months.

    SDNs represent a significant advance in that they allow organizations to manage their networks at a higher level of abstraction. Rather than manually adjusting command-line interfaces, SDN technologies provide a framework for reducing the complexity associated with managing complex networks. In theory, that should allow network managers to more easily cope with thousands of virtual and physical switches that make up an enterprise network.

    According to Silver Peak Systems CEO Rick Tinsley, the nature of the traffic on those networks is fundamentally changing. With the rise of more Big Data applications along with increased usage of replication in virtual server environments, IT organizations are seeing more “Jumbo Frames” consisting of much larger network packets. Silver Peak just released a version 6.0 upgrade to its WAN optimization software that more efficiently transfers Jumbo Packets across the WAN.

    Other enhancements in version 6.0 of Silver Peak’s Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) software includes gigabit-level performance for all major hypervisors, support for Citrix XenCenter management software and the ability to support applications running on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

    Tinsley says the one thing that differentiates Silver Peak most is that it doesn’t favor a hardware approach to WAN optimization over software. Tinsley contends most customers would prefer to deploy WAN optimization as software rather than hardware, and over time he expects software-only approaches to dominate.

    In the meantime, enterprise networks over the next two years are about to be transformed. In fact, with the rise of virtual data centers, it’s unclear to what degree managing networks will remain isolated from servers and storage. What is for certain is the days of using command line interfaces to manage network gear will thankfully soon be heading the way of the buggy whip.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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