The data center is getting all the SDN attention these days, but the applications that will help SDN cross the chasm may actually very well come from the campus.
SDN has the ability to radically transform campus networks over the next few years and address today’s most acute management challenges. Campus networks require application specific policies like security & access control, VLAN traffic isolation and QoS policies to be provisioned across the network one switch at a time. This consumes a lot of resources and results in a static network that cannot be easily updated as business requirements evolve and new applications are deployed.
In contrast, SDN enabled networks can dynamically allocate resources in real-time to meet the needs of running applications. Custom built SDN applications interacting with the network’s OpenFlow controller can collect input from many sources including: application specific security and QoS requirements, physical network statistics, user activity, security threat analysis, and so on to dynamically allocate and protect network resources, set access control rules and prioritize traffic in real-time in a fully dynamic fashion.
Security and network access policy enforcement: Goodbye inflexible NAC appliances and manually deployed ACLs, Hello application-aware security and real-time access policy enforcement across the network.
Traffic isolation and network slicing: Goodbye static VLAN provisioning one switch at a time, Hello network-wide application-aware real-time traffic isolation.
Real-time traffic, video-streaming and UCapplications. Goodbye static QoS tagging, Hello application specific end-to end-traffic prioritization in real-time.
Application-aware traffic forwarding. Goodbye static forwarding rules, Hello dynamic traffic management optimized for each application.
Don’t expect SDN adoption on the campus to happen overnight though, this will take place incrementally. That’s why support for technologies such as OpenFlow ”Hybrid Port Mode” is a must. “Hybrid Port Mode” enables mixing OpenFlow and standard packet processing pipelines, not only on a per-switch or router basis, but also on a per-port basis. Thus, selectively unlocking the power of SDN on the campus for specific user or application traffic, while continuing to use the standard packet pipeline for switching and routing the rest of the traffic on the network.
Expect Interest in these SDN use cases, and applications to span many verticals, including, K-12 and higher education, government, healthcare and many other verticals where increased network agility, reliability, predictability and lower operating costs is paramount.