I have talked to a lot of system administrators over the last couple of months asking them if SDN was on their radar for next year, and until last week none of them were looking at it. To be honest, I was surprised. SDN has the potential to deliver benefits like we saw with X86 virtualization.
- Hardware abstraction
- Centralized control and a standard interface.
- Multi-tenancy for Hybrid cloud, remote office, mergers and acquisitions.
- Automation, where networks can be configured and managed in an on-demand, self-healing fashion.
Now part of me can understand this. You may think that you are a server admin and networking really isn’t your job, or if you are the person who manages you network infrastructure you might be thinking this is just for the virtualization guys, but understand it has already started to creep into your world. It started with a v-switch, then a distributed v-switch , now nsx and hybrid clouds. I am going to tell you to get on the SDN bus before it leaves the station. There are a lot of companies who have the power to create markets investing Billions in the market, companies like VMware, Cisco, Microsoft and Amazon to name a few. Companies I would not bet against.
Here are a few places where I think companies can start to take advantage of SDN:
Small office with a small IT department, having one interface to manage your virtual infrastructure, storage and now networks would be HUGE. You would not have to learn the ios for your switch manufacturer.
Companies with branch or retail offices: Can you imagine the standardization. No more dreaming up a new IP scheme when you run out of addresses. Now every office, every store has the exact same IP scheme. You would have a addresses for servers, printers, registers.
During mergers and acquisitions: If you have ever been part of merging two networks you know how much work goes into re-assigning IP addresses to every device. With SDN you would not have to do that. You would just put up a gateway and bring them together.
In short, SDN is much like your own personal super highway that is placed on top of the existing infrastructure with on and off ramps only where you need them with one place to manage it all. You should start evaluating what companies are offering and at what price point.
In the very near future years you are going to see a convergence of the server, storage and networking teams. The lines are already beginning to blur in many companies. Not only are you going to be working for the same manager but you are going to be expected to do each other’s jobs, share on call rotations, and pick up each other’s projects. Gone are the days of just being a virtual administrator, windows guy or network administrator. You are going to have to have a better understanding of how your technologies interact or work for someone who does.