One of the often overlooked aspects of a successful software-defined networking (SDN) strategy is a relevant solution ecosystem. Because SDN is a dramatically new networking model, and often entails significant architectural and operational changes to how we deal with the data center network, it’s really easy to get caught up in the focus of the data center network infrastructure itself, and forget to look beyond that. However, the reality is that applications are delivered on an end-to-end basis, passing through many packet and session handling functions, with most of the “in path” components being in the data center. While typically transparent to the end-user, network designers and administrators are more than familiar with the many moving parts, including network services such as delivery controllers, firewalls, and inspection platforms, across which most application must traverse during their delivery. Additionally, servers and applications themselves are becoming abstracted, compartmentalized, and packaged for ease of administration and deployment using technologies like hypervisors and containers. Successful automation for enterprise cloud includes the jump from simply using virtualization to fully automating complete service deployment that includes all resources required for that application, to include compute, storage, network, AND network services.
New tools from the DevOps domain are also being deployed to manage server and application elements, with the natural expectation that these DevOps tools should also be capable of managing network components. In order to accomplish this some level of integration is required across all of these components. While we see this integration coming together at the orchestration level – whether it is VMware vSphere, Microsoft Cloud, Red Hat, or any OpenStack environment, a missing link is the integration between network based services and the underlying network that interconnects all of the elements.
In single vendor environments this deeper and wider level of integration is possible simply by leveraging vendor-specific integration options. If the network infrastructure devices and network service devices are from the same vendor it is easy for the vendor to design in integration, allowing more complete automation and orchestration between these elements. It is when the delivery components across the data center network are from different vendors that things become more complicated and challenging. This is where a solution ecosystem becomes valuable. The ability to coordinate the deployment of network services, and the paths required to insert them into an application flow seamlessly is where the real transition from data center virtualization to enterprise cloud computing begins.
Join us in our upcoming webinar on Friday, February 24th, 2017 to find out more about the importance of an open partner ecosystems in delivering a more efficient, valuable, and comprehensive solution that can better enable IT and business to be successful during their digital transformation.