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What Is a SDN Switch?


In the traditional IT environment, a network switch (also called switching hub or bridging hub) is defined as a piece of hardware that utilizes packet switching to receive, process and forward data between devices within a computer network. Today, with the global rise of server virtualization, traditional network switches are being gradually replaced with software-defined network controllers (SDN switches) that rely on the code as opposed to network bridges and hardware.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is indeed gaining momentum. By 2022, the SDN market is expected to reach 134.51 billion, growing at a CAGR of 43.2% from 2015 to 2022 (click to tweet). And with the SDN switch being in the center of a network and acting as a liaison between network devices and applications, it’s essential that organizations understand its basic functionality and benefits. 

What is SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) synthesizes and simplifies a variety of sophisticated technologies and makes it easy for IT administrators and service providers to manage and optimize their networks.

Unlike outdated systems that can no longer support the ever-changing requirements of real-time cloud applications, SDN offers an ability to direct traffic from a centralized location and deploy services wherever they are needed without having to worry about the specifics of the connected hardware devices.

Traditional Networking is A Thing of the Past

As we mentioned earlier in this article, traditional network switches utilize dedicated hardware appliances that have to be manually configured based on their requirements and unique settings. It’s no surprise that network deployment, where everything is linked individually, requires a great deal of maintenance and expertise, not to mention, a high risk of human error.

This is where SDN switch comes into play. As opposed to traditional systems, SDN offers centralized workload provisioning, which allows admins to achieve efficiency and flexibility in managing their entire network as a single unit. By abstracting the control and data planes, SDN switch accelerates service delivery and makes provisioning for virtual and physical devices more agile.

In addition to eliminating the need for having to update each device manually, SDN enables administrators to distribute security information evenly across multiple sites through a centralized control point which considerably simplifies network security management. SDN makes it easier to collect network usage information, detect anomalies and mitigate threats much faster than traditional network deployments, allowing security professionals to prevent malicious attacks before they occur.

Watch the recorded webinar to learn more about SDN Management and Security best practices.

By eliminating the need for manual configuration and deployment, SDN reduces operating costs and equipment expenses associated with installing traditional network switches. It also makes it easy to repurpose and optimize legacy hardware by applying SDN controller instructions and allow less expensive hardware to be deployed to support the intelligence centered at the heart of SDN.

Deploying SDN allows network administrators to optimize hardware usage and share resources to reduce hardware maintenance costs. Instead of having to diagnose, locate and physically replace each broken hardware component, technicians can roll back their software changes without negatively impacting the server.

In addition to reducing hardware footprint, SDN simplifies networking complexity in the areas of interoperability, expectation management, administrator requirements and risk mitigation with cloud abstraction. SDN’s abstraction layer helps blend your cloud resources which, in turn, helps operating systems and applications to move freely between servers, clusters or even datacenters, without being tied to individual hardware platforms.

SDN allows IT managers to experiment with network configuration by adding new applications and virtual machines on demand. By decoupling the network control and its forwarding function, SDN provides agile and holistic enterprise management for physical and virtual devices alike.

With the introduction of the SDN switch, developers and admins are now able to get full control over traffic behavior from one device to another, gaining insight into what makes devices and applications efficient. They also have the option of creating a fully customizable and responsive infrastructure that brings networking, cloud, hosting and IT services together.

While SDN does offer many benefits, its deployment is complex. There’s a number of steps to take to ensure error-free implementation and operational efficiency when implementing this solution.

The 5nine platform provides unified management and security for software-defined networking (SDN) in Microsoft cloud environments. With 5nine Cloud Manager, admins can deploy, manage and optimize their Hyper-V hosts, clusters, VMs, disks, networks and virtual network appliances with capabilities similar to System Center at a fraction of the cost.  With 5nine Cloud Security, admins can secure their Hyper-V hosts, clusters, VMs, disks, networks and virtual network appliances in a seamless manner.

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