Software Defined Networking - "The Biggest Thing Since Ethernet"

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SDN Authors: Pat Romanski, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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Software Defined Networking | Part 5 By @MJannery | @CloudExpo [#SDN #Cloud]

Now, Never, Don’t Know? A 10-Part Series (part 5)

In part 4 of our series on SDN, I discussed some of SDN's most commonly asserted benefits. Here I'll look at the drawbacks, the majority of which are organizational or financial and not technical.  The most commonly cited reasons for actively not deploying SDN are:

Staffing

SDN requires significant staff re-training or recruitment.  There are very few staff with proven SDN deployment / management skills making recruitment difficult and therefore re-training of existing staff is necessary.  Of course having retrained those staff, their retention with their new, highly desirable, scarce skills might prove problematic too!

Reorganization

To use SDN effectively there needs to be a sharing of knowledge between business requirements, applications, servers and networking teams.  This might take the form of cross-discipline teams, or individuals with broad cross-discipline understanding.  Without this, mapping services to application requirements and ultimately network requirements cannot occur effectively.  This type of breakdown or merging of traditional ‘silos' is already occurring - e.g., with the emergence of DevOps - albeit slowly!

Cost

Whilst proponents of SDN cite the real cost benefits of running a more highly utilized network and the less quantifiable benefits of a more agile network with more rapid application and service deployment, re-scaling, etc. they often fail to factor in the costs of retraining, reorganization, new hardware and software licenses and the hidden costs of loss of business continuity during initial deployment.

Security

Whilst tighter, more dynamic security enforcement is recognized as an advantage of SDN, it is also a new, rapidly evolving technology with new protocols and new weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  Such a lack of maturity and the possibilities for compromising the network control layers make SDN an appealing target for hackers, industrial espionage, etc.

In part 6, we'll take a look at obstacles to deployment.

More Stories By Michael Jannery

Michael Jannery is CEO of Entuity. He is responsible for setting the overall corporate strategy, vision, and direction for the company. He brings more than 30 years of experience to Entuity with 25 years in executive management.

Prior to Entuity, he was Vice President of Marketing for Proficiency, where he established the company as the thought, technology, and market leader in a new product lifecycle management (PLM) sub-market. Earlier, Michael held VP of Marketing positions at Gradient Technologies, where he established them as a market leader in the Internet security sector, and Cayenne Software, a leader in the software and database modeling market. He began his career in engineering.