The Next SDN Leap: Simplified, Intelligent, and Ultra-broadband

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Without an agile, flexible, and secure network infrastructure, organizations are in danger of falling behind competitors. That’s why many organizations are seeking to transform their businesses with cloud computing and hybrid cloud environments that are more adaptive and flexible. Software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) can ease that path, but it requires automation along with intelligence that understands and can even predict what users and organizations want and need to do.

Digital transformation has quickly moved beyond hype to become one of the top business imperatives. “Digital transformation is forcing companies to be agile and move with speed, and the network needs to be equally agile and fast,” writes industry analyst Zeus Kerravala. “The separation of control and data planes enables control to be abstracted away from the device and centralized so a network administrator can issue a change that is propagated instantly across the entire network.”

Cloud, big data, and analytics are the core of transformation efforts, paving the way for application of artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Few businesses, though, have the capability—or desire—to make a wholesale leap from existing infrastructure to all cloud. Many rely on critical on-premises systems that they want or need to continue operating, while leveraging cloud technologies to gain agility and flexibility as they grow existing businesses and pursue new opportunities. This hybrid environment must be able to grow and contract virtually at the flip of a switch, as IT decision-makers leverage their assets strategically to meet changing needs.

Making SDN work

According to Forrester Research analysts, infrastructure and operations teams “continue to trim away legacy approaches and mold enterprise data centers into an integrated software abstraction layer that presents the resources of the data center as pools of virtual and physical resources.”

As Network World points out, SDN is an architectural approach, rather than a specific product, for virtualizing data center networks. “This typically means separating the management of the control plane of network devices from the underlying data plane that forwards network traffic,” writes Brandon Butler. “Using a software-defined system to control this disaggregation brings many benefits, including increased network management flexibility and being able to more easily implement fine-grained security policies.”

By leveraging SDN, enterprises can define their own networks and modify networks to support digital upgrades and adapt to fast changes brought by cloud applications.  Creating new, innovative services is the key driver behind SDN implementation, followed by improving time to market, according to a survey of communications service providers by Cartesian, in collaboration with the Broadband forum.

Achieving success does require a learning curve, particularly in adapting existing legacy equipment to an SDN environment. One hurdle to overcome is the cultural barrier not only between IT and network staffs but also with other departments such as marketing and product management, according to that report.

Along with several other tips, RCR Wireless advises that IT organizations often forget to de-provision the added resources, straining network capacity. “Businesses can only enjoy the benefits of SDN if they know how to deploy it,” writes Nathan Cranford.


Huawei’s CloudFabric vision  

Huawei developed CloudFabric, a next-generation data center network architecture, to help customers cope with problems faced by cloud networks. This provides a highly elastic, easy-to-operate, open SDN architecture, that can scale up or down to support any size data center environment.

According to Huawei, three roadblocks in cloud computing development are rigid networks, complex networks, and closed networks. Enterprise network design should be able to anticipate future changes and avoid rigid network architectures to control CAPEX increases caused by frequent network upgrades.

CloudFabric provides for an elastic network that is easy to use and open. The end-to-end unified SDN solution provides consistent and integrated SDN capabilities in the data center LAN, as well as across Data Center Interconnection (DCI) and Storage Area Networks (SANs).

Huawei has deployed more than 500 SDNs worldwide and was positioned as a leader in a recent Forrester Research report: "The Forrester Wave™: Hardware Platforms For Software-Defined Networking, Q1 2018." Based on its experience, Huawei recognizes that many organizations are hampered by manual analysis and processes when it comes to implementation, operation and management of SDN. They need solutions that are:

  • Simplified – providing automatic network orchestration that can shorten the service provisioning period from weeks to minutes
  • Intelligent – utilizing full-path data center network intelligent analyzer supporting visibility of applications and networks, which can shorten fault location time from weeks to minutes
  • Ultra-broadband – leveraging a congestion scheduling mechanism and improved AI training efficiency

To address those needs, Huawei will release the Intent-driven Cloud Fabric Cloud Data Center Network Solution at CeBIT 2018.

The Digital Difference

SDN is a key enabler for the infrastructure to support today’s cloud-centric, digital business. But the technology can only fully deliver on its promises with intent-driven solutions that incorporate service intention understanding, automatic network policy deployment, and continuous optimization. This is how the digital enterprise can provide the ultimate experience for each user in each application at each moment. For more information on bridging the gaps between the physical network and business goals go to


Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.