One byproduct of software-defined networking (SDN) will be the extent to which operators will see what’s going on in the network.
And as analytics get closer to providing real-time feedback, the potential behind that information gets more intriguing, writes Scott Raynovich, head of research firm The Rayno Report, in a report titled “Analytics and the Software-Defined Data Center.”
His point is that the SDN architecture (he uses OpenDaylight as an example) is riddled with APIs. They’re needed in order for layers to communicate — for appliations to talk to the SDN controller, for instance. And that means useful knowledge is all around the network, for the taking.
“As these APIs open up channels of information between the network layers, it will increase visibility extracted by measurement and analysis tools. This will produce a new breed of analytics and management applications, enabling real-time measurement and analysis of what’s going through the entire computing and networking system.”
This analytics-driven feedback loop has been talked about for a couple of years as something SDN should exploit. An SDN controller could, theoretically, tweak the network based on information about the network’s current state. Ideally, you end up with a more automated network.
Even visibility itself is being talked about as a potential network service, since SDN makes the network more transparent than before.
It’s going to be interesting to see which vendors benefit the most from this. Cisco, for example, intends to apply policy and gather analytics all over the network as part of its Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI). On a smaller scale, the business of network monitoring has been getting more attention than it’s probably ever had before, and a lot of specialists in that area are hoping to cash in as SDN plans solidify. (Raynovich’s report discusses several of them, including Boundary, Gigamon, and Splunk.)