This is the eighth in a series of thirteen blogs that are designed to help IT organizations on their path to software-defined networking (SDN) adoption by Jim Metzler. This blog will discuss managing an SDN.
While I certainly believe that SDN represents a fundamentally new way to think about networking, I also believe that we don’t need a fundamentally new way to think about managing an SDN. What we do need is for IT organizations to be able to extend their existing management tools and processes to include SDN wherever possible and to only add new tools and modify existing processes where necessary.
An emerging best practice is to implement a “single pane of glass” approach to network management. Whether or not an SDN is involved, this single pane of glass approach should encompass wired and wireless networks, physical and virtual networks as well as LANs and WANs. If SDN is involved, this approach should also encompass the three layers of the SDN architecture.
One of the key traditional management challenges that many IT organizations struggle with is being able to identify the components of the IT infrastructure that support the company’s critical business applications. In those instances in which the applications are running over virtual networks such as the ones enabled by SDN, the IT organization needs the ability to be able to effectively visualize those virtual networks.
Another key traditional management challenge is being able to rapidly identify the root cause of degraded application performance. Once SDN has been implemented, in order to do root cause analysis IT organizations need the ability to monitor the performance of the SDN controller. It also needs to be able to monitor the communications that flow between the applications and network functions and the SDN controller as well as the communications between the SDN controller and the network elements.
HP is an example of a company that provides an SDN management solution as part of its Intelligent Management Center (IMC) platform. The IMC Virtual Application Networks SDN Manager provides monitoring as well as configuration and policy management for all three layers of the SDN architecture and it supports OpenFlow switch management, and SDN controller performance management. The IMC Virtual Application Networks SDN Manager is a single tool that manages both SDNs and traditional networks.