The SDN Journey Part 5 – The Shift to Software by Jim Metzler.
This is the fifth 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 discuss the shifting role of software.
In the traditional environment, most network functionality is implemented either in a dedicated appliance or in an ASIC. Network appliances are proprietary and each appliance is configured individually. While scripting languages can automate some tasks, provisioning, change and de-provisioning are very time consuming and error prone
In the current environment, many traditional network functions that were once done in dedicated appliances are now implemented as a software application. This includes WAN optimization controllers and firewalls. As has always been the case, software based solutions provide more flexibility and hardware based solutions provide more performance.
I look at SDN as part of the current megatrend of implementing more functionality in software. One of the key advantages of SDN is that it enables the development of network functionality by the worldwide ISV community. As a result, new SDN-based network functionality will develop quickly – on a software development timeframe.
Over time, driven in part by the need for higher performance, this new network functionality is likely to migrate back to hardware in the network equipment
As such, in the era of SDN, network hardware remains very relevant.