Software-defined networking (SDN) was born in the data center, and much of the technology’s growth has remained there. What we’ve seen over the last six months on SDNCentral and our Wiretap experience is a new push toward SDN for the WAN and Service Provider Networks. We are now starting to see mobile network operators look to SDN to solve problem in the mobile backhaul network, where it is much more complicated to monitor and provision the network.
When looking for content to read about SDN for the mobile network, we found a new white paper from our friends at Accedian Networks who say that getting the most out a mobile backhaul environment requires “insightful SDN,” or SDN that optimizes the network using real-time views of available bandwidth. While I’m not sold on the ‘insightful SDN’ term – we are increasing hearing about challenges in mobile backhaul environments and how innovative new approaches using SDN and NFV to change mobile backhaul economics – which tells me there is an opportunity both for mobile operators and their suppliers, like Accedian.
Basically, Accedian argues that decisions based on static snapshots (reporting of data at specific times in data centers) of the available network cannot hope to offer the same results as decisions based on constantly updated, measured information. The white paper, complimentary for SDNCentral members, says Accedian’s Network State+ technology enables insightful SDN by providing SDN applications detailed visibility of the network in real time. The promise is that these SDN applications can then make real time adjustments to the network.
There currently are two common solutions to measure network traffic: traffic counters to infer the traffic matrix for a given network, and tools like NetFlow to measure real traffic. While both solutions have their strengths, Accedian argues neither offers a useful answer to the question of how to report on the bandwidth availability of links that might not be operating at their designed capacity.
In a mobile backhaul/microwave transport environment, factors ranging from atmospheric conditions to bandwidth sharing between operators often cause links to operate below designed capacity. If an SDN application pushing traffic downstream is “blind,” or not “aware” of these changes, it continues to send data at the expected bandwidth speed, causing spillover and wasted bandwidth.
When the SDN application is aware of the current network state, it increases network efficiency by enabling more informed routing decisions and controlling traffic before it hits network bottlenecks. The white paper talks about how Network State+ provides visibility across multiple media, technology, carriers, and domains to give more accurate visibility of available bandwidth across links and on a hop-by-hop basis.
If you are a mobile network operator and interested in learning more about how to optimize mobile backhaul networks from end to end, download the white paper here.
Check out more about Accedian Networks on SDNCentral: