Virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) offer new opportunities for how data centers can manage their IT infrastructures. As networks become more programmable, enterprise data centers can achieve greater agility. SDN and NFV are influencing the convergence of IT, data center, and telecommunications. They give data center managers the flexibility and scalability to anticipate changing market demands and stay ahead of customer expectations.
Embracing SDN & NFV to Optimize Enterprise Data Center Operations SDxCentral defines software-defined networking (SDN) as a way to manage networks that separates the control plane from the forwarding plane. SDN is a complementary approach to network functions virtualization (NFV) for network management. While they both manage networks, both rely on different methods. A Gartner report indicates that by 2017, 10 percent of customer appliances are going to be virtualized, up from today’s 1 percent. Industry analysts are forecasting that more network traffic will be virtualized over the next five years.
The objective of NFV is to use both commodity computing and available storage solutions to reduce – if not eliminate – limitations associated with proprietary hardware. NFV is a network architecture concept that leverages IT virtualization technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions (firewall, router, IDS, etc.) into building blocks that may be connected, or chained, to create communication services.
Enterprises are shifting from in-house data centers to co-location facilities. In addition, different elements of traditional IT infrastructure are also shifting from physical servers to virtualized and software-defined architectures and cloud-enabled services.
DCD Intelligence predicts that the growth of in-house hosted IT facilities is limited to around 1.29 percent CAGR between 2014 and 2020. For co-location, outsourcing, and shared facilities space, growth is expected at 9 percent CAGR over that time. The total data center space globally will rise from 36 million square meters to 46 million square meters, but only 56.8 percent of this will be in-house. This trend indicates a year-on-year decline of 2 to 2.5 percent in physical racks in-house, with this decline being balanced by an increase in external and in-house deployment of virtualization and cloud and, to a lesser extent, co-location.
As a provider of enterprise software for data centers, specifically DCIM solutions, we are seeing SDN and NFV emerge, especially as customers build new data centers or consolidate existing infrastructures into alternative facilities. Also, within large telco providers there is great interest in implementing these technologies.
When looking at current heterogeneous, in-house data centers, many are not yet on SDN technologies. This is primarily because most data centers are still managed in silos, which means each siloed team is responsible for a different service as well as the IT infrastructure to support it.
This creates challenges and complexity because of the gaps between disparate silos. One team is typically responsible for the IT stack and another for managing the network. To implement SDN or NFV technologies, these organizational boundaries must be unified among the different silos, in order to provide centralized access and control across all IT assets and resources.
As data centers are expanding infrastructure to keep up with growing demands, the challenge lies in the technical deployment process itself. While concurrent implementation scenarios exist today (one part of the data center is working on SDN while the other is operating on old technologies), this can lead to a difficult transition phase – because you need a clear and transparent view into your existing physical infrastructure and a direct link to virtualized assets and technology areas.
It is necessary to have all detailed data on your physical infrastructure available. Otherwise you will not be able to automate your services, keep your service quality, and manage the capacities you need for the transformation toward a virtualized infrastructure. If the physical infrastructure is well known and well managed, then SDN and NFV technologies will provide huge benefits to data centers and interconnected sites.
Both SDN and NFV can increase flexibility and agility for the delivery of services, shorten go-to-market rollouts, help automate many tasks, and provide the right network capacities where needed. As a result, your data center will operate more efficiently and enable you to launch an array of services.