The definition of networking

The expansion of IoT devices, sensor connectivity and other cyber-oriented systems fueling the evolution at the network’s edge need reliable access to sensor data to improve production processes and product quality, create a safer work environment, and enhance equipment performance. This requires substantial network transformation. And one of the most efficient and effective means for achieving this milestone in today’s market is software-defined networking (SDN).

The synergies between SDN and multi-cloud deployments drive a range of benefits, accommodating automation, virtualization, on-demand provisioning and granular packet-level data analytics, while providing agility, scalability and cost savings. Clearly, the adoption of new technologies is not without risk, and an enterprise must evaluate its plans to minimize any risk to business continuity.

While the edge network can be transformed with SDN, the real challenge is how to connect sensors and devices that are so prevalent inside the IT infrastructure. Today, Wi-Fi is the most common connectivity option. This can be filled with challenges due to coverage, interference, capacity and security issues. However, security remains the biggest challenge, as building and managing a secure network is crucial for running a business-critical IT infrastructure.

As 5G deployments become increasingly common across the industry, 5G will offer a complementary or alternative approach to Wi-Fi. While there are many analogies between coverage and capacity interference between 5G and Wi-Fi, the main difference is that of deploying and managing. With 5G, an enterprise can have a fully managed and secure environment to connect their sensors and/or devices within the network. Mobile network operators globally are looking at offering managed 5G services to enterprises for exactly this type of environment.

During the next decade, we will see 5G deployments expand across verticals and geographies. The promise of additional capacity and lower latency at a better price will be welcomed by all. With both 5G and SDN adoption occurring in parallel, it’s important for organizations to understand what these technologies can do for businesses.

Both technologies are going to be driven and embraced with a disaggregated model that separates hardware from software, and data plane from control plane, to achieve the agility, cost and simplicity goals needed for the digital realm. Both technologies are going to be distributed in deployment for enhanced customer experience. 5G will provide a high-performance transport underlay network that could be more broadly available in many parts where wireline infrastructure is not able to provide high-speed broadband services.

Advanced, agile and elastic network and security architectures are critical to integrating emerging technologies. Technologies like virtual reality, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and industrial internet of things equipment will place an even greater strain on network resources if not updated and allocated properly.

SDN separates the hardware from the network controlling software, allowing for a more centralized management of network resources, as well as visibility. One of the biggest benefits of SDN is that it can be scaled to fit your IT team, simplifying operations so that you do not need as many administrators to manage the infrastructure.

SDN optimizes the foundation for how information flows within and outside the business. And in a digital economy, information is currency. SDN paves the way for real business performance improvements and, ultimately, growth. Without doubt, it’s critical in enabling and accelerating digital transformation and more so, delivering personalized, modern, and real-time customer experiences.

SDN has enabled the slicing of networks, meaning that many new networks will be riding on top of existing infrastructure, and virtual machines will be sending and receiving data on that same infrastructure. This creates a proliferation of entry and egress points, increasing the potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors. Base stations, nodes and other networking hardware also create additional points of vulnerability for 5G networks.

Everybody wants their business applications to have open APIs so they can integrate one application with another. And, as software-defined networking slicing means a proliferation of API calls to different networks, each is a potential vulnerable point. To help combat this, security solutions should include real-time SSL (so the connections between the web browser and the server are encrypted) and layer 7 (the application layer) packet inspections.

SDN is the idea of a network architecture approach that enables the network to be centrally controlled using software applications. This helps admins manage the entire network consistently and holistically, regardless of the underlying network technology. By abstracting cloud resources using software-defined networking, organizations will easily be able to integrate seamlessly with cloud solutions which will provide immediate software updates and upgrades.

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