6 Reasons Your Network Isn't Ready For SDN

Companies implementing software-defined networking in the data center risk failing if they don't address infrastructure and organizational issues first.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your network probably isn’t ready for software-defined networking in your data center. This statement isn’t meant to put anyone down, nor should it discourage efforts to get to an SDN-ready state. It is, however, a reality check that should help IT infrastructure architects focus on what needs to be added or strengthened prior to looking at SDN technologies. In other words, let’s not put the cart before the horse.

I must also point out that other forms of SDN, such as software-defined WAN are far easier to implement, and you may already have all the pieces in place to start your SDN journey at the WAN. But aspiring for end-to-end SDN -- or even just SDN within the data center -- is a far greater challenge to take on. Reasons why most IT departments aren’t ready generally fall into one of two categories:

1. Your infrastructure isn’t ready. This could be either hardware-related, software-related, or both. The point here is that an infrastructure must achieve an SDN-ready state across the board before SDN technologies can be implemented and put to use. Even if your infrastructure is 99% of the way there, it’s not good enough.

2. Your organization isn’t ready. Both from a business perspective and an IT department perspective, decisions must be made in order to take full advantage of SDN. Additionally, once an SDN roadmap is established -- based on sound business drivers -- IT must figure out how SDN will be supported.

On the following pages, we’re going to dive into these two categories and point out six specific steps that must be completed before SDN can be implemented in the data center. Think of them as obstacles that must be overcome before SDN can be considered. And by skipping one or more obstacles, you set yourself up for failure once you transition to a next-generation infrastructure utilizing software-defined technologies.

If you’ve started investigating your own SDN migration path, we’d love to hear about where you are, what problems you are facing and ultimately, what real-world benefits you think SDN can provide.

(Image: geralt/Pixabay)

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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