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SDN promises revolutionary benefits, but watch out for the traffic visibility challenge

Hansang Bae, director, Cascade Product Architecture, Riverbed Technology | Jan. 7, 2013
Ever since VMware bought Nicira last July the term software-defined networking (SDN) has taken off, with players like Cisco, Juniper, VMware and even HP and IBM jumping on the bandwagon.

What can you can do to stay ahead of SDN problems

Network engineers need to know about such problems, plan for them and have a tool to address them. Fortunately, some network performance management solutions let you know how packets are physically flying around the network and the logic behind the traffic. They can provide the best of both worlds as you get to see the physical network and peek inside the encapsulated SDN tunnels.

With insight into interactions among various virtual machines on each physical host, you can monitor all application traffic traversing the virtual switch, providing real-time and historical visibility into virtualized and private cloud environments. And once the packet and flow data is captured, it can be analyzed to detect end-user experience issues, TCP errors (retransmits, resets), server delay, top talking VMs, utilization and more. This is nirvana for the network manager who is now able to identify problems in the virtual network in a familiar fashion as he does in the physical network.

Love it or hate it, SDN is coming to networks everywhere, so network engineers need to determine where and how best to use the technology as well as consider how to address the network visibility challenge it imposes.


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