Intelligence Networks

It's no secret that modern IT systems require ever-increasing productivity, reliability, and at the same time the flexibility, scalability and efficiency necessary to meet the demands of the modern user and solve business problems. The peculiarity of the current situation is also that it is impossible to sacrifice any of these parameters.

Software Managed and Software Defined

It is well known that the development of data centers has already made it possible to approach the solution of the task. Another thing is that the data center is not only and, probably, not so much a physical union of the components of the IT infrastructure as a platform for the concentration of advanced trends and developments. And since data centers are today key elements of the IT landscape, the development of all areas of corporate IT has begun to fit into a single vector.

More specifically, more recently, the notion of Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) has begun to sound more and more often. In the course of implementing this concept, the general task is posed as follows: without degradation of the reliability and performance parameters of IT solutions as a whole (the top bar of which was set and continues to be set by hardware components), increase the adaptability of the computing infrastructure, the degree of equipment utilization, and thus all the other above-mentioned characteristics.

In terms of technical implementation, we are talking about the fact that literally all elements of the IT infrastructure, from computing power to the most universal data processing services in the data center (such as, say, data deduplication, backup or load balancing), begin to live in space virtualization. And accordingly, all the elements that were traditionally implemented in a purely hardware way become software-defined.

It must be said that network infrastructure in this regard has long remained (and still is, to a large extent) a very conservative area. The principles themselves, in accordance with which the architecture of information transfer is formed, the ideas of structuring the information flow have remained virtually unshakable for decades, while the architecture of computing and approaches to data storage have undergone significant changes. Nevertheless, the term Software Defined Networks is gradually becoming more and more popular, and the corresponding systems are increasingly being put into practice. According to IDC estimates made in the second half of last year, by the end of 2017, the market was supposed to reach $ 1.2 billion, having increased over two years from $ 225 million. The growth by more than five times looks convincing, although even such seemed would,

Before speaking directly about SDN, I note that the role of software development in optimizing network traffic has been and continues to be quite high for many years. At least, it has always been higher than in the field of data storage systems, which, by the way, are also close to software defined ideas. Today, in ensuring the quality of traffic, the pool of various software systems collectively plays almost more pain than the entire "iron" foundation, which was originally laid down in the architecture of a particular network device. The term virtualization, as part of the same software development, is also often pronounced in the context of a conversation about network devices. Many, in fact, external software services aimed at optimizing the operation of networks and data protection, are now firmly perceived as an integral part of data transfer technology. In other words, if we say that software-defined networks have appeared long ago, then formally this thesis will be correct. The most diverse software has long been very closely woven into the world of network devices, and in order to better understand the essence of the concept of software defined in its modern sound, we will try to clearly separate them from the solutions of previous generations.

This is not for you, and here you are not here: we understand the details of SDN

Of course, the current software determinability of networks has nothing to do with the logical separation of transmission channels, which has long been a standard practice for implementing network communications, and while ensuring the proper level of performance, it can always be implemented programmatically. In SDN networks, logical separation is maintained, and simply cannot be otherwise.

You should also clearly separate the concept of SDN networks from the currently quite popular NVF (Network Function Virtualization). The basic idea of ​​NFV is to virtualize network services, thus abstracting them from the equipment of one or another manufacturer. As a result, typical servers often become the typical hardware foundation of virtualized network services. The ideas embodied in the SDN are much wider, but if necessary, virtualization of network functions can be fully implemented within the corresponding devices.

Separately, SDN should be distinguished against the background of a whole set of software technologies related to network traffic optimization and architectural solutions used in a specific configuration, with a specific profile of network traffic profile and requirements for its security. It should be said about such technology as Application Delivery Network (ADN), which in turn provides for the implementation of several mechanisms: Application Delivery Controller (ADC), WAN Optimization Controllers (WOCs), Web Application Firewalls and Secure Access Gateways. It hardly makes sense to bore with a long enumeration of the individual functions of this pool of mechanisms, therefore, I note only the fundamental points. The fact that the task of ensuring the security of data transmission is highlighted here is clear from the above names. As for network optimization, it certainly very popular and significantly increases the transmission efficiency. A kind of "trump card" of this technology is that it operates according to the situation that develops at a certain moment in time in a certain segment of the network, and in accordance with this situation, it involves various methods of influencing traffic (such as deduplication, caching, and the whole a number of others). The basis of network optimization and protection of network segments is often hardware systems, but due to very high requirements regarding the adaptability of the functions of these devices to practical data transfer scenarios, software also plays a very large role here. and in accordance with this situation, it will use certain methods of influencing traffic (such as deduplication, caching, and a number of others). The basis of network optimization and protection of network segments is often hardware systems, but due to very high requirements regarding the adaptability of the functions of these devices to practical data transfer scenarios, software also plays a very large role here. and in accordance with this situation, it will use certain methods of influencing traffic (such as deduplication, caching, and a number of others). The basis of network optimization and protection of network segments is often hardware systems, but due to very high requirements regarding the adaptability of the functions of these devices to practical data transfer scenarios, software also plays a very large role here.

Returning to the topic of SDN, it is important to note that in this case we have no conflict with previously used software developments. If necessary, SDN devices are capable of taking on these functions as well, which, as a rule, eliminates the need to install special devices both in data centers and at remote sites.

As a result, we can safely say that Software Defined Networks allows you to implement a full range of services that over the entire existence of data transmission networks have appeared as part of individual technological developments. At one stage or another, these developments were dictated by the need to optimize network traffic, as well as by the need to protect data, and in general corresponded to the level of development of the software IT infrastructure at a given point in time.

In other words, SDN networks represent the most fundamental approach to using software solutions in building data transmission networks. And thanks to ideology and architecture, they can provide the customer with a number of additional features.

What should we build a network ...

Of course, SDN networks have a common architecture, which is noticeably different from the classical one. In the framework of the traditional paradigm, as you know, lies the concept of a static network. Initially created and configured network domains form its basis and, in this sense, the initially implemented architectural model does not change over time. Network engineers are responsible for designing the network topology, configuring service quality parameters (QoS), and during operation, for observing these parameters, as well as for localizing and eliminating problems in switching or routing traffic.

In the case of SDN networks, this concept of a fixed environment no longer exists. Instead, the routing scheme may vary depending on the actual data flows in different parts of the network, which in turn depend on the load profile of application systems running on top of this network.

Currently, there are several essentially competing models of SDN networks, among which the most recognizable, perhaps, is the Open Network Foundation (ONF) model. It is already presented in great detail in literary sources and I will not repeat its numerous descriptions. Despite its recognition, so far this model can hardly be called the market leader. Rather, it is only one of the options for implementing the concept of Software Defined Network, and along with it there are also alternative developments. Among them, there are models similar in ideology to what ONF offers (the so-called fabric-based networks), there are, on the contrary, different models, among which we can name the overlay-based model, which is based on the long-known ideas of tunneling and network encapsulation traffic.

Of course, the previous generation of routers could not function completely in an isolated and static state. Information exchange between them (at least in some “short-range order”), which leads to the constant updating of local routing tables on each device, has always occurred. This is a regular process that determines the subsequent data movement routes within the framework of a pre-built network topology. This process is implemented during the operation of any network and in established network terminology is called the control plane. Based on the corresponding settings, there is a direct through movement of data over the network, and this movement in the aggregate is called the data plane. In traditional network devices, such a separation, if it exists, is rather a theoretical paradigm, allowing you to structure the individual functions of a network device and thus better understand their work. The logic at the level of internal architecture in this case remains absolutely monolithic.

The basic idea of ​​SDN networks is to separate these two spaces, which, according to the existing experience of application of software control technologies for various hardware devices, should lead to simplified management and to the emergence of opportunities for its most flexible use. As a result of this separation, the control plane actually turns into the operating system of a computer network, while the data plane, on the contrary, plays the role of passive routing by means of commands generated at the level of the control plane. Thus, the development of network technologies fits into the overall technological vector. If we return to the topic of software-defined data centers, then the solutions there are also divided into two spaces,

In other words, the network becomes fully programmable, and the most important thing in this property is that this programming in most practical situations, in fact, is initiated not by administrators, but by the application systems themselves. That is, based on the logic of their functioning and the need for network resources at the moment, application systems "set the task" for the SDN network.

SDN sprouts on the IT landscape

In the near future, when the well-known concept of the Internet of things will finally begin to take shape, network traffic will turn out to be more dynamic, more saturated, and more diverse in format. The number of application systems that both business and individual users work with will also increase.

The emerging concept of EDGE Computing, which is essentially complementary to the ideas of IoT, directly indicates that a significant part of the load will fall on the branches.
Universal mobility today can also be seen as a kind of “pen test” for Intentet of Things technologies. At the level of functioning of applied systems, these two worlds probably seem to be completely different, but they have a lot in common in the projection on network technologies. And in this sense, it is no coincidence that a fairly large number of publications can now be found linking SDN with mobility, IoT, and EDGE Computing.

Another powerful potential for the development of SDN networks lies in the explosive growth of video content, both when using the Internet by individual users and corporate networks.

There is also a strong opinion that a large business dealing with the problems of the formation, storage and distribution of electronic content using an outsourcing model will become a kind of “crystallization point” for the development of SDN networks. It can be mobile operators, home television operators, or companies that take decisions to maintain the life cycle of electronic information resources for their corporate clients. It is believed that at first the concept of Software Defined Networks will find wide application in their data centers, and after a while it will begin to cover the entire space of electronic communications.

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