The Changing Nature of Networking
This is the fourth in a series of thirteen blogs that are designed to help IT organizations on their path to Software Defined Networking (SDN) adoption. This blog will look at the changing nature of networking in general and of the networking function in particular.
Historically networking was regarded as being tactical and as a result, network design goals included reducing cost and the standardization and stabilization of the network. Networking is becoming more strategic and as a result, while reducing cost is still an important goal, so is adding business value.
One of the ways that SDN changes networking is that it introduces the concept of a southbound API between network elements and an SDN controller and of a northbound API between an SDN controller and business application and network functions. In order to prevent vendor lock-in, the southbound API should be standardized and it should also enable automated provisioning of the network and the ability of the network to dynamically respond to changes such as a spike in traffic
The Northbound API makes the control information of the network available to applications such as traditional network services (e.g., firewalls or load balancers) or an orchestration engine such as OpenStack. The Northbound API is currently not standardized.
The role of the networking function is also changing. This change is driven by a number of factors including the adoption of varying forms of virtualization and varying form of cloud computing. This change is also driven by the need to support mobility, the desire for more automation, particularly in the data center, and the adoption of SDN.
In my next blog I will discuss the shifting role of software.
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