Software Defined Networks: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

Contributed by A. Michele Parrish

As more devices are connected to the Internet there is an increased demand for more resources that must be provisioned rapidly. In traditional networking, a network was designed for a long period of time; the engineers thought about the clients, the servers and internetworking devices (switches and routers) and how they would all work together. The components were bought and downtime was scheduled to install new systems or upgrade current ones. Today’s Internet of Thing (IoT) environment, in which everything from your cell phone to the refrigerator to the car is connected to the Internet, does not allow for significant time for planning and implementation of those new resources. Resources must be able to be allocated and managed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The traditional environment of each switch or router having to be managed independently does not allow network administrators the ability to react swiftly to the new demands nor does it allow the switches or routers to adjust their information quickly enough. Software Defined Networking (SDN) is an architecture that creates a virtualized network that can meet the requirements of today’s IoT environment. In this paper the components of SDN will be examined, types of SDNs, and reasons and benefits for using SDN. OpenFlow, a protocol that is used on SDNs, and the connection between network virtualization (NV), network function virtualization (NFV) and SDNs will be will be explained. There are also challenges associated with SDN and this paper will look at them and possible solutions. Lastly the future of SDNs will be addressed.

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