SDN Vol. 2

Planning for SDN

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Increasing levels of management buy-in will be needed to engage vendors in detailed discussions of SDN, to conduct a POC or to implement an SDN. But you are more likely to get management buy-in if you anticipate management’s concerns and work to resolve those concerns over the SDN planning cycle. For example, some organizations will be reluctant to implement any technology or new way of delivering technology if the associated security concerns are not thoroughly addressed.

You’ll ultimately need to develop some form of business case to justify implementing SDN. That business case can be based on myriad factors, including everything from cost savings associated with automating administrative tasks to the added agility that comes with SDN. It may also be possible to identify ways in which implementing SDN supports other core IT initiatives, such as moving to cloud

computing.

There is no doubt over the next few years that SDN will have a significant impact both on enterprise networks and on the role of network professionals. Because of that, you need to develop a plan to evaluate and potentially implement SDN.

When planning for SDN, you need to be attuned to new developments in the industry, such the announcement of new companies, new products, new standards and the announcement of mergers and acquisitions of SDN providers. However, you also need to avoid some of the noise in the industry, such as the ongoing debate over the precise definition of SDN.

Given the embryonic and rapidly changing nature of SDN, an SDN plan will likely evolve over time. It should, however, begin with the identification of the opportunities that SDN might help address and with the definition of SDN that will be used by your organization throughout the planning process.

And don’t forget the planning process must include ongoing education. We are still in the early stages of software-defined networking and your plan will have to be a living breathing thing.

Metzler heads Ashton, Metzler Associates. He can be reached at jim@ashtonmetzler.com

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