Apr 17, 2013
When I was younger I waited tables at a neighborhood restaurant. When I first met with the general manager, I promised to work hard to make the customer’s dining experience exceptional. I knew the difference between a good dining experience and a bad one.
Little did I know how difficult it would be to deliver on that promise. The reasons for a bad experience were endless. Maybe I forgot to bring something to the table. It could have been the meal was undercooked, or the customer was just in a bad mood. Every time a customer left unhappy, even when it wasn’t my fault, I always felt responsible.
I’m sure IT administrators feel the same way when they get complaints about slow and unreliable data center and network performance. Well, there is new technology that shows signs of offering relief.
Building networks that truly serve the applications has always been a dream of data center managers. And now, with the elasticity and open architecture that Software-Defined Networking (SDN) promises, network resources can be controlled and managed specifically with the applications in mind. Provisioning and managing today’s network services is a hefty undertaking, and plenty of human errors are made when manually managing groups of diverse equipment. One objective in the alleviation of these problems is to have physical network infrastructure become less of a management challenge and become more of a seamless, integrated building block within virtual infrastructure adaptable to changing workloads.
The promise of SDN for enterprises, cloud operators, and service providers is to build networks that effectively serve their applications, allow them to manage their networks to support diverse workloads, and to ensure compute, storage, and network resources are always available for all their applications.
For the most part, applications are transferred over general-purpose, one-size-fits-all networks that are hard to control and manage. Unfortunately, one-size-fits-all doesn’t work very well, as some applications are mission-critical, while others are not; and some applications are highly sensitive to latency, and others aren’t, and so on.
Rather than deploying applications over traditional networks, with no ability to automatically address dynamically changing workloads, SDN programmability promises to enable the automatic and intelligent appropriation of virtual and physical IT infrastructure resources to meet the needs of all applications.
Having a network architecture that has an understanding of application workload needs, and dynamically allocating IT infrastructure capacity to meet the workload requirements is a huge leap in network service. This capability can truly enable IT administrators to deliver a positive and productive user experience for any and all of their dynamic and ever-changing applications.