Understanding Software Defined Networking

If you aren't intimately familiar with Software Defined Networking, don't fret

If you aren't intimately familiar with Software Defined Networking, don't fret. Only 10% of 450 IT practitioners at a recent Network World event raised their hands when asked if they understand SDN. But if the emerging technology lives up to its promise to redefine networking as we know it, there is no time like the present to dig in and learn more.

Proponents argue that, among other advances, SDN will centralize and simplify control of the network, make networks programmable and more agile, and create opportunities for policy-driven supervision and more automation.In short, SDN will help networks keep up with the speed of change made possible by the virtualization of other data center resources and provide the perfect complement to cloud computing.

But challenges remain. Many of the vendor cheerleaders, after all, are tiny startups. While the incumbents seem to have joined in the chanting, only time will tell if they are serious about change or simply paying lip service while working behind the scenes to scuttle advances so they can get back to business as usual.

That said, most industry pundits say the SDN movement has momentum now and, even though we're still in the early goings, there won't be any stopping this train. Now it is just a question of where we end up going, how long it takes to get there, and how different the coach looks when it finally arrives.

Download this Network World Digital Spotlight, "Understanding SDN," for our in-depth look at the fundamentals, including a piece that explores the promise and the limitations of SDN, another looking at the core building blocks, and an SDN FAQ. We round out the package with a discussion with an early user and 12 tips for SDN IT buyers.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

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