Home Asia-Pacific II 2014 Software Defined Networking and bundled services offer better performance, speed and flexibility

Software Defined Networking and bundled services offer better performance, speed and flexibility

by Administrator
Jon VestalIssue:Asia-Pacific II 2014
Article no.:8
Topic:Software Defined Networking and bundled services offer better performance, speed and flexibility
Author:Jon Vestal
Title:VP of Product Architecture
PDF size:229KB

About author

Jon Vestal is VP – Product Architecture, Pacnet
A veteran of the telecoms industry with over 20 years of IT and telecommunications experience from engineering and operations to product development and sales.
In his current role as head of product architecture at Pacnet, Jon overseas the team responsible for the enhancement of Pacnet’s core network products as well as the design and delivery of strategic product initiatives including cloud computing .
He joined Pacnet 2011 to lead the company’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) product development , spearheading the buildout of Pacnet’s extensive Asia Pacific CDN PoP network and helping create a growing and profitable new product portfolio for Pacnet.
Prior to assuming this role, Jon was Asia Pacific Managing Director for Expereo Singapore. He also spent more than ten years at Internap Network Services where he served in a number key positions including General Manager of APAC and earlier as acting CTO of Internap Japan and Director of International Engineering and Operations.
Jon Vestal holds a BA in Chemistry from Pitzer College.

Article abstract

Prior to the launch of SDN and virtual networks, software-enabled networks didn’t exist and enterprises requiring more server storage space, bandwidth or switches spent a considerable amount of money on specialized hardware. Operational expenses were higher because the equipment required additional square footage and generated a lot of heat, which increased cooling costs.

Full Article

SDN technology as an enabler
Software Defined Network (SDN) solutions are being adopted by next-gen carriers as a dynamic way to create functional, cost-effective network architecture designed to dynamically respond to global traffic flows. First introduced around 2008 by Stanford University graduate Martin Casado, SDN’s evolution continues today with groups from Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, and Open Networking Lab, as well as other universities and enterprise organizations driving even greater change. By recognizing the unique and divergent needs of content providers and enterprises seeking different content delivery requirements, carriers that offer SDN with bundled services increase network utilization while optimizing the way data is delivered.
SDN enables network operators to give control to customers in order to arrange network functionality in such a way that it permits increased network control, more efficient Content Delivery Network (CDN) performance and ultimately, a better customer experience. By building a dynamic and scalable system, service providers optimize the utilization of their networks and can offer lower delivery costs, low latency, high availability, fast and efficient routing and provisioning, and faster content delivery. Customers gain flexibility by having more input when determining how much bandwidth and content is delivered and at what priority level (since email doesn’t require the same priority as online transaction).
SDN technology takes the networking and cloud management capabilities to the next level by delivering the ability to tailor the network to customers’ unique needs on demand, thereby dramatically reducing operational costs and creating a flexible and sustainable network. SDN can also be tied to Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) pricing models, allowing for more pricing options such as pay as you go, flat monthly, burstable or volume-based pricing.
Configure, re-direct, and assure data delivery as you go
By separating the network from physical control, SDN allows for the network to be programmable on a layer independent from the network hardware. In other words, a software layer is added between the network hardware and the operating system that communicates with the transport mechanism or wire. SDN gives network operators a way to configure the network using software in a modular environment, which makes the process cleaner, more agile and more intuitive, and eliminates the need to reconfigure physical devices.
SDN is comparable to hardware virtualization where a hypervisor is inserted between the physical layer of the computer and the operating system. The operating system sees the virtual environment and the hypervisor translates the information from the virtual components and instructs the physical layer.
With an SDN, operators can create virtual machines (VMs), which emulate the existing architecture and are capable of executing programs. Today, VMs enable a virtual software-enabled network by establishing a virtual switch to connect virtual servers together to route the data. VMs do not interact with the hardware but with each other, thereby providing the functionality of a switch and router network. No changes are required on the physical hardware level as the operating system sees only the virtualized components. Traffic flow is still routed at the network level, but it is controlled with software rather than hardware.
SDN in the data Centre
In the data centre environment, SDN provides flexibility for multiple customer-defined protocols and requirements by defining how VMs will communicate with each other and the rest of the network. Network hypervisors write control programs, compile requirements, compute the switch configurations and implement changes simultaneously so all customer policies are met.
By building the control program or virtualized environment on top of the network topology using software running on servers on the network, the network operator has more flexibility and separation. Operators can then build a better network by changing the layers, which makes the network easier to manage and keeps the underlying hardware secure.
Several factors are causing the shift to virtualized environments. Bandwidth demand and capacity are leading considerations for enterprise deciding upon SDN as a viable solution. Bandwidth flexibility, on the other hand, is a driving force behind telecom adoption, as it provides carriers with an edge when delivering cloud-based services. In our experience, startups benefit from SDN when tying products to the telecom SDN; network providers are using SDN when investing in software-centric network solutions; SDN technologies are gaining ground in cloud data centres; there is a greater focus on converged architecture between the network and the cloud; customer demand for network flexibility is increasing to support virtualization in the cloud and mobility; and more telecom-specific SDN technologies are coming to market to help carriers improve flexibility and reduce network costs.
The challenges inherent to the functionality of SDN compared to traditional, carrier-grade infrastructure are that SDN is still relatively new and there may be less support for some tools. Also, software is not perfect and may require updates. The impact of software changes on the network can be an unknown, particularly if the customer requires customization and enhancements, which could effect network functionality. Also, SDN-enabled throughput could be compromised to some degree, but for the most part the difference is negligible.
Drivers of SDN technology – demand for capacity
One thing is certain, demand for bandwidth capacity will continue to increase, so smarter solutions are needed to handle the growth. By 2015, the IEEE projects there will be approximately 15 billion fixed and mobile network devices and machine-to-machine connections operating on the Internet – with 24.8 gigabytes being consumed per user per month. The IEEE is exploring a 400Gbps Ethernet standard to support a 58% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in average bandwidth by 2017, while mobile bandwidth demand is expected to be three times greater than fixed global traffic during the same period. International bandwidth demand along major submarine cable routes has resulted in the delivery of 54 Terabytes of additional capacity from 2007 to 2012, with Africa leading the way among the emerging markets of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. At the same time, the SDN market continues to expand with 2016 growth estimates varying from US$3.7 billion to US$35 billion , with the greatest amount of activity anticipated in the cloud computing application and data centre environment. Recent trends may be indicative of this trajectory, with reported sales of SDN technology increasing from US$10 million in 2007 to US$252 million in 2013. The key driver for this demand is virtualization in support of content-defined networks (CDNs) to deliver an increasing amount of media, entertainment, social networking, cloud applications, machine-to-machine applications and managed services.
Prior to the launch of SDN and virtual networks, software-enabled networks didn’t exist and enterprises requiring more server storage space, bandwidth or switches spent a considerable amount of money on specialized hardware. Operational expenses were higher because the equipment required additional square footage and generated a lot of heat, which increased cooling costs.
While virtualization has been around for years, the processes and equipment needed to build an SDN and virtualized environment were not available. Today, telcos and enterprises have a number of SDN hardware-enabled devices and software choices when taking the path towards virtualization.
SDN is open-sourced and implemented with OpenFlow API interfaces, creating a vendor-neutral environment. Because it is based on accepted international standards, software from one vendor is built from the same set of standards as another, making it easier for the operator to configure the system. Compare this to hardware capabilities, which can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
When the SDN is converged with multiple services such as CDNs, cloud infrastructure and telecom services, service costs are minimized for the provider. Bundled services result in economies of scale, and savings can be passed on to the customer.
In addition, the introduction of SDN and virtualized environments has enabled a number of cloud computing services such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Network-as-a-Service (NaaS).
SDN enabling Network-as-a-Service
NaaS is a unifying network model which allocates resources based on a holistic view of the whole network, while offering enhanced content delivery and improved time to market for new products. Where the standard product development cycle requires organizations to write a business case, assign resources, then adhere to a prescribed schedule for product completion, the software model is much more adaptive. NaaS takes the software model to the network level by creating a more flexible, scalable and responsive network design. NaaS enables carriers to become true IT service providers with the ability to add new network features, scale for bandwidth-on-demand quickly and offer service bundling, depending on customer need.
The future of SDN and NaaS
SDN will play a key role in aiding users seeking agile content delivery solutions that enable rapidly scalability and the addition of bandwidth on-demand to aid their every-changing requirements. The technology will enable an NaaS set of offerings that deliver a set of pay as you go services and robust infrastructure to support large content delivery demand under a variable cost model and with full end-user control. The market landscape will be forever altered with the rise of disruptive, telecom-specific SDN technologies that aid carriers in improving their network flexibility while reducing network costs.


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