The network is under severe strain as mobile computing, cloud services and virtualization have exploded bandwidth and network resource use. However, today’s data center networks have little awareness of the applications that are generating traffic. At the same time, the new virtual application control systems that have come out of virtualization are unaware of the conditions prevailing within the network. This has led to the network and applications operating in silos. Attempts by the network or the application controllers to improve resource utilization have proved little effective in this environment.
Enter the Software Defined Network (SDN). This is not your father’s old SDN for voice private line services, rather it provides enterprise IT professionals a better way to optimize the network providing data center connectivity for the virtualization of applications and bringing better automation to the network and configuration.
Reality is that this next generation of SDN is still in the process of working out some kinks. In fact, there are limitations to current approaches to implementing SDN, including scalability and compatibility with existing networks, according to a recent white paper by Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert), A Coordinated Virtual Infrastructure For SDN In Enterprise Networks. Reality as the paper notes is that, “These limitations often make current solutions not applicable for a typical enterprise network.”
The shift in implementing SDN in a way that sidesteps these issues and brings true efficiency to the network is a coordinated virtual infrastructure built on an Application Fluent Network. This approach to SDN provides programmability, application fluency and a global control view, the keys to overcoming the current limitations of SDN.
“This will allow the network to be virtualized and establish a control model for the network that parallels the control model established for applications,” noted the paper by Alcatel-Lucent. “This solution should make use of standardized interfaces between applications and networks, as they become available, and provide a ‘plug-and-play’ environment for the network with a single pane of glass for management across applications and the network.”
As one of the world’s leaders in networking technology, and backed by the primary research of its Bell Labs (News - Alert), Alcatel-Lucent has long recognized the need for enterprise networks to be more aware of the applications that they transport. It has therefore developed its Application Fluent Programmable Network, which addresses the need for programmability, application fluency and a global control view.
“The Alcatel-Lucent approach to application fluent network infrastructures encompasses the goals of SDN while resolving the capability gaps that exist in the current approaches to SDN,” noted the paper. “In addition, the Alcatel-Lucent vision for SDN in enterprise networks extends beyond the data center to include the entire corporate network. It goes past simply automated configuration of network elements to focus on the entire user experience.”
Such approaches to SDN are necessary if the network is going to keep up with the growing demand.
Edited by Peter Bernstein