Networking software is a foundational element for any network. It helps administrators deploy, manage and monitor a network. Traditional networks are made up of specialized hardware, such as routers and switches, that bundle the networking software into the solution. Software-defined networking (SDN) separates that software from the hardware, making it easier to innovate and adapt the network to quickly meet changing network demands.
Network software is not the same as software applications. Network software exposes the inner-workings of the network to administrators, while software applications enable end users to perform specific tasks. Network software is “invisible” to end users – it is simply used to facilitate the access those users have to network resources, in a seamless way.
The basic functionality of network software includes:
- User management – enables administrators to add or remove users from the network.
- File management – allows administrators to define the location of data storage and user access to that data.
Network software allows multiple devices, such as desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and other systems to connect to one another, as well as other networks. The Internet is a prime example of a globally connected system of servers and computers that relies on networking software to ensure accessibility by end users.