Learn about the benefits of moving to SDN technology

Learn about the benefits of moving to SDN technology

Flexibility, programmability, and scalability are some of the benefits brought by software-defined networking (SDN) compared to traditional network infrastructure. With SDN technology, all intelligence is executed outside the equipment, in a central point, which facilitates the network control and new services adequacy.

According to the coordinator of the Software Defined Infrastructure (IDS, in Portuguese) project at RNP, José Rezende, the SDN paradigm can be compared to the automatic exchange of a car, due to its more abstract point of view. “The manual gearbox makes people closer to the machine, but adds complexity when it comes to driving. The automatic gearbox, on the other hand, makes it easier to use the car and makes it easier to drive”, said Rezende, who is also a researcher of Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

From the SDN, it becomes possible to slice the network, that is, multiple virtual networks are created within the same physical network, which allows the experimentation of new internet architectures. “In each of these slices, it is possible to try other architectures that can coexist with IP technology,” said the researcher, referring to Fibre (Future Internet Brazilian Environment for Experimentation) project, from Future Internet.

The power of abstraction is one of the benefits of migrating to SDN technology by making network management simpler. In traditional networks, all political decisions are implemented locally, making it necessary to configure each of the equipment. In software-defined networks, decisions are centralized and all configurations are made in a single control plan, which concentrates a global view of all the components. “Although the network is made up of multiple devices, the control plan sees it as a single device, capable of automatically discovering new paths and being resilient to eventual failures”, he emphasized.

Considering these possibilities, RNP coordinates, since 2015, the IDS project, which aims to monitor the gradual evolution of the Ipê network architecture for SDN technology. The purpose is to build a network superimposed on the backbone, to test and develop prototypes, as well as to establish guidelines for new architectures and to collaborate with international peers.

Currently one of SDN's pioneering international initiatives is the US academic network Internet2, which today offers two different community networking options in TCP/IP and software-defined architecture. The OpenFlow protocol as an international standard, the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), which enables virtualization not only of infrastructure, but also of network functions, and cloud computing are among the trends being adopted. “Today's systems are plastered and leave it to manufacturers alone to innovate”, Rezende said. “With the practicality of these technologies, the sky is the limit”, he emphasized.