How to Prepare for SDN

Software defined networking

Software defined networking is a relativelty new practice that requires a lot of work to implement successfully. If you are planning to make the jump to SDN, let’s firstly consider its benefits to your business.

For a business implementing SDN practices it’s wise to understand how it all works. There are a number of different services offered by a wide variety of providers and those options alone require a lot of hard work and time. There’s the potential to opt for open source and bare metal switching but there are also commercial offerings that a business could successfully exploit.

The most important consideration is firstly auditing your existing network to discover if it will support SDN as is or if there’s also the task of upgrading it for SDN support.

A guide to help you prepare for SDN implementation.

1.     Education and research

One of the main stumbling blocks for a business before it implements new technology is the fact that it often doesn’t understand the software. It’s advisable to really get to grips with it and understand what it’s compromised of and how the business will benefit from it.

Familiarising yourself with new technology should always be the first step before actually installing it. A business should have an awareness of both how SDN could benefit or hinder its productivity. Remember that just because many businesses are adopting and singing the praises of SDN it may not be the right tool for your particular ser-up. Make sure that you read up on the subject and that you are conscious of the variety of iterations of SDN – you may even find that you have your own unique spin on this technology.

As with most things in business, implementing software defined networking takes planning.Without this, you may find that it’s not the technology you needed and it’s actually negatively impacting your business.

2.     Have a plan

Every business has different wants and needs and as such you should carefully lay out what you hope to achieve. There are so many things to consider from open standards to virtualised Layer 4 – 7 services, but the need for those options rests squarely on whether or not it benefits your business. SDN has numerous applications but a business needs to be certain that it’s using the networking tool in a way that moves the business forwards and doesn’t impede on productivity.

SDN has a great ability to utilise analytics and packet monitoring due to its application in rapidly steering traffic with only a few mouse clicks. The orchestration and automation of business networks can save money and time. Determine your business goals and figure out how SDN can get you there. Then implement it slowly and at considered and well thought out points.

3.     Be safe and secure

The great strength of SDN lies in the fact that all networked online services become centralised to one controller. This strength is perhaps also SDNs greatest flaw and it’s important that a business prepares and defends against potential attacks from hackers or the accessing of malicious content by employees. A business must have policies in place that ensure that the controller knows exactly how to deal with any given situation.

4.     The right time to start

Data centres are the targeted market of SDN principles and much of the automation, orchestration, capital and operational cost reduction perks are fairly obvious. Start when the implementation is at its easiest and perhaps start by educating employees on the new systems being considered. When a new system is implemented there will always be a marked drop in productivity if the introduction of that technology is not coupled with educational resources. Ensure that your business is prepared and you’ll likely be nearing a good point to implement SDN technologies.

5.     Consider how you start

As we considered earlier, SDN requires careful planning before it is utilised. Start small and test SDN implementation in samples that are easy to analyse. Understanding the data and how these new principles benefit your business means that you can target and tweak a wider roll out much more successfully.

Once it’s all working on a smaller scale you can easily roll it out to your whole IT infrastructure in controlled bursts. When it’s all working in a manner that suits your business you can start considering some of the new, more innovative applications of SDN. It can facilitate the combination of both the development and operations networks into one homogenous blend that allows a place for new software to be tested and quickly moved into production.

SDN implementation is a huge task for a business and one that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Remember that not every business needs these principles so before spending lots of money and changing the way things work; make sure that SDN is an answer to a specific problem that your business is experiencing.