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Software is Going to Define the Network: Swapna Bapat, Brocade India

Sejuti Das | June 29, 2016
Swapna Bapat, Director for Systems Engineering, Brocade India believes that the biggest challenge with SDN, are the misconceptions organizations associate with it.

For the past two decades, networking technologies have not been able to quickly respond to the rapidly changing business demands. Software-defined networking promises to change that, says Swapna Bapat, Director for Systems Engineering, Brocade India.

According to IDC, the worldwide SDN market for enterprise and cloud system provider segments will grow from $960 million in 2014 to over $8 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of 89.4 percent.

Up till now, SDN has been employed in large or particularly network-centric enterprises. However, SDN is developing rapidly and becoming more appropriate for a wider range of enterprises with disparete business needs. In an exclusive interview she points out that every revolution takes time to become the new normal, and networking is no different. Here are some excerpts from the interview

Everyone is talking about SDN nowadays. What are the key benefits that it offers to enterprises?

SDN allows business logic to be tied to the configuration of IT infrastructure. The bigger promise of software defined networking is that it will centralize and simplify control of enterprise network configuration.

SDN provides a company with the ability to model its physical networking environment into software, which, in turn, helps in reducing the overall CAPEX and OPEX. This is because it does not require a huge investment and there are even a few products that are open source based. Along with that, it helps in programming virtualized critical networking devices, and supports configuration of both physical and virtual switches and network devices from a central controller.

SDN lets network managers configure, manage, secure, and optimize network resources very quickly via dynamic, automated SDN application programs, which they can write themselves, as they no longer depend on proprietary software.

What are the key criteria while designing a seamless network architecture?

The network must remain available for use under both normal and abnormal conditions. To explain, normal conditions include normal or expected traffic flows and patterns, as well as scheduled events, such as maintenance windows. Abnormal conditions include hardware or software failures, extreme traffic loads, unusual traffic patterns, denial-of-service (DoS) events, and other unplanned events.

The major design objectives are to minimise long term operational costs and maximise service capability. The network should be designed to support cloud, big data, analytics and social network. The network should be agile and flexible. The hardware should be robust to support the software.

The security system in New IP architectures is continually learning and self-optimizing. As it monitors behavioural patterns and looks for preliminary attack activities, the system can predict the likelihood of an attack. This is unlike traditional systems that rely on pattern matching with databases that get updated periodically. In that case, if an exploit doesn't fit into any of the patterns, the security system doesn't recognize it as a threat, that makes them more agile and can self-improve in that regard.


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