Why Software-Defined Networks Matter to the Internet of Things

• • Broadband, fiber management, fiber network, industry trends, Smart Home, Telco

iot_oct2016_squareAre you prepared for the future? Knowing what Software-Defined Networks (SDNs) are should be tops on your get-ready list. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is just starting, and as the adoption of its technologies accelerates, networks need to be flexible and fast.

Broadband installers need to prepare network infrastructure with 40- to 100-Gb fiber optic cabling, and plan to visit each client only once. That means future-proofing installations with high-speed fiber protected by durable quality enclosures.

What is SDN?

SDN is a network management approach based on the concept of handling network traffic separately from data. In a traditional network, switches and routers are all managed as independent units, so changes to the network require a tech to work on hardware. In an SDN environment, network traffic is controlled by a centralized console called the controller.

The controller communicates with the infrastructure layer of routers, switches and devices via what are called southbound APIs and with the business applications via northbound APIs. APIs are application programming interfaces, basically languages and protocols that allow the controller to, well, control. Southbound and northbound are terms used to describe the direction within the layers of the network.

In an SDN environment, devices are not slowed down by having to make decisions. A network administrator can change the traffic patterns via software rather than working on the physical network infrastructure. This means, though, that the network cabling must have the capacity to transport a massive amount of data.

How Do NFVs compare to SDNs?

Another term associated with SDN is Network Function Virtualization (NFV). As the name suggests, NFV describes a shift to virtualization, but NFV is a somewhat static operation that does not offer the intelligence of SDN.

NFV rules are established at the time of installation.

If a network becomes overworked, the SDN network can be quickly programmed to deal with the new load, but the NFV remains constrained by original settings.

The Benefits of SDNs

The most tangible benefits of SDNs are financial. There is the initial cost of SDN-enabled routers and switches, but once deployed they will adapt to changing network requirements without the purchase of new purpose-built hardware.

Centralized control over hardware has huge potential to lower ongoing operating costs by decreasing the need for repeat visits to a site to make changes to the network.

Prepare for the Future

SDNs have been evolving for many years, and the process is not likely to stop anytime soon. Once used only in massive data centers, SDN is becoming increasingly popular.

Telecommunication service providers and other enterprises are now deploying SDN technologies because they offer superior ability to manage the mass of traffic that has resulted from the widespread adoption of mobile and social technologies.

The evolution will keep pace with the advances in IoT until every household and workplace needs an administered network with the flexibility to adapt to new advancements in technology. It’s up to you to be ready for that moment.