Network Services SDN Part 2: What are the benefits of software-defined networking?

By: Neil Alhanti

In Part 1, we focused on what software-defined networking (SDN) is, how it works, and how SDN is different from traditional networking, including how each type of networking uses data packets.

For Part 2, we’re going to focus on the practical benefits that your organization can attain by integrating SDN into your network architecture.

What are the most common advantages of using SDN?

In their eponymous article “7 Advantages of Software Defined Networking,” the author notes that SDN’s biggest promise is to “centralize and simplify control of enterprise network management”. Other advantages that SDN offers include the following examples:

  • Ability to program traffic
  • Increased agility
  • Ability to create policy driven network supervision
  • Ability to implement network automation
  • Ability for network to scale as needed

The article goes on to note that SDN “creates a framework to support more data-intensive applications like big data and virtualization”. SDN helps organizations use virtual machines (VMs) and direct network traffic, which is one of the factors driving virtualization adoption in today’s organizations.

In addition to the aforementioned advantages, here are several of the advantages that SDN has over other types of networking:

Unifying cloud resources and shaping and controlling data traffic

By using SDN to abstract cloud resources, SDN helps simplify the process of unifying cloud resources. This process also helps SDN controllers to manage the networking components that make up the vast data centre platforms.

One of the primary advantages of SDN is being able to manipulate data traffic. The ability to direct and automate this traffic allows for easier implementation of quality of services (QoS) for multimedia transmissions and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP or Voice over IP). This ability allows SDN tends to produce better user experiences with benefits like improved network responsiveness and the ability to stream higher quality videos.

Centralized network provisioning

SDN offers the ability to program traffic and lets you provision resources from a centralized, software-based control plane. This centralized view helps administrators monitor the entire network and direct enterprise management. It helps accelerate service delivery and provides greater provisioning agility for physical network devices and VMs.

Scalable network management

In an effort to meet the growing needs of today’s organizations, today’s networks must establish new applications and virtual machines as needed. SDN supports both physical and virtual switches and network devices and provides application programming interfaces (API) for enterprises looking to create their own single, central management console for managing physical and virtual devices.

Network security

Centralized security is one of the biggest advantages that SDN offers. Virtual machines entering and leaving a network as components of physical systems creates a network security challenge: how can SDNs continue to use virtual machines as a part of their systems along with employees’ BYOD while applying firewall, content filtering and other similar cybersecurity policies and practices?

The SDN Controller helps answer this question by providing a centralized control point for continuously distributing information to your organization. By consolidating the centralized security control into the SDN Controller or a similar encapsulation, it increases the network’s cyber resilience, helping the SDN to better manage the organization’s security.

Cost-saving

There are a number of benefits that SDN offers which can help your organization reduce their operational expenses. These benefits include the following examples:

  • increasing administrative efficiency
  • streamlining server utilization
  • improving virtualization control

SDN can also help your organization save on administrative costs because it helps centralize and automate routine network administrative functions that would otherwise require network administrators to perform.

SDN also makes optimizing commoditized hardware easier, allowing hardware to be repurposed by the SDN controller. “Less expensive hardware can be deployed to greater effect since new devices essentially become “white box” switches with all the intelligence centered at the SDN controller”.

Ready to take the next step? Schedule a consultation with an Software-defined networking (SDN) expert.

In depth: IBM Network Services topics:

Network Services

Network Consulting Services

Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Managed Network Services

Hybrid SD-WAN Services

What is Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN)?

What is a software-defined data center and how it can help your business?

SDN vs Traditional Networking Explained

What is network function virtualization (NFV)

About The Author

Neil Alhanti

Senior Writer, IBM Global Technology Services

Neil Alhanti is a content marketing writer, wordsmith and editor extraordinaire with IBM Global Technology Services. He spends his days crafting conversational communications across multiple mediums and otherwise “fighting the good fight and writing the good write.”