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What Problems Does SD-LAN Solve? Here Are Six Of Them.

By Milind Pansare in · Technology · April 19, 2017
In this four-part series, I explain SD-LAN. Last week I published a list of what network decision makers should look for in a software-defined enterprise wired and wireless LAN solution. Today I underscore the direct benefits of SD-LAN in a new list.
As mentioned previously, software-defined solutions for the enterprise campus LAN and WLAN have been emerging in the market. By decoupling network logic and policies from the underlying switching hardware, software-defined networking endeavors to bring new flexibility into the networking environment. Policies can be defined, changed, and modified in a centralized manner, as needed. Simply put, SD-LAN brings the following high-level benefits to the enterprise:

1) Centralized campus network control. This feature provides management simplicity and extends the centralization benefits inherent in cloud-managed networking.

2) Dynamic exchange between applications and the network with built-in automation and orchestration. This allows the network to respond more quickly to changes in demands from enterprise applications, thus meeting the dynamic needs of the business.

By decoupling network logic and policies from the underlying switching hardware, software-defined networking endeavors to bring new flexibility into the networking environment
3) Delivery of simple, programmable interfaces to the network. This enables enterprise IT to create both IT applications that improve manageability and business applications that can provide DX value.

4) Agile scalability. A hardware-centric controller-based model can hinder scalability.For example, having to implement WLAN controllers (plus redundancy) can serve as a bottleneck to investing in network expansion. Software- and cloud-based networking models eliminate many of these bottlenecks, allowing the network to scale responsively to the changing demands of the enterprise.

5) Future proofing. Software-defined architectures, with their automation and programmability benefits, can help enterprise IT prepare for impending developments, such as large-scale IoT deployments and Wave 2 802.11ac WLAN, among others.

6) Potential cost savings. Features such as zero-touch provisioning and centralized administration and troubleshooting can help reduce opex associated with managing the network by reducing the amount of manual labor needed for routine network administration tasks. As mentioned, a reduction in the hardware infrastructure needed for the network can also reduce initial capex. 
Next time, I'll discuss real world examples of SD-LAN solutions.

Milind Pansare (@milindpansare)

Milind Pansare is Strategic Marketing Director at Aerohive, responsible for working with Aerohive’s strategic alliance initiatives, corporate messaging and positioning, and working with key industry analysts. Prior to Aerohive Milind has led Product Marketing at several Silicon valley cloud startups, and held marketing and engineering leadership positions at companies such as Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), Saba Software, and HP. Milind holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.