The Control Layer builds on top of the Services Layer with a centralised way of controlling network and security devices without having to touch them, every time there is a new business requirement or change request.
The Software-Defined Network (SDN) provides an abstraction where business applications can dictate how the network should respond based on the application requirement, whether it is to find a route with higher bandwidth or simply to ensure the web application can talk to the database application regardless of which rack or even which data centre they reside in.
Instead of letting individual devices decide how to move traffic based on constant re-configuration at the command-line interface, there is now a programmable network-wide level of intelligence and control.
The true innovation with SDN is the ability to have a plethora of SDN applications communicating with the SDN Controller via standing application interfaces to dictate how the network should behave, all managed from a central location.
An open-sourced SDN controller like OpenDaylight - with its large community base, will ensure the innovation never stops and that there is no vendor lock-in.
At the Orchestration Layer - whether it’s with open-sourced software like OpenStack or CloudStack, or other orchestration software, server and application administrators can provision, deploy and terminate virtual compute and application resources.
But with NFV, the same tool can now be used to do the same thing with network services. In fact, network resources can be spin up or down automatically based on thresholds in consumption and usage determined by the business.
What should companies do in the face of this transformation?
Businesses that embrace the New IP will find that they can respond to competition and their customer needs a lot faster. So what should companies do to prepare for this transformation?
Firstly, there is a need to have a paradigm shift in how the network has been provisioned and managed.
The days of box-by-box command-line interface configuration - which tends to be reactive, will soon be over. Companies must pursue automation and simplicity in order to achieve agility.
Secondly, there has to be a plan in place to prepare the network infrastructure for virtualised network services and programmatic access.
For example, companies could make sure that new network devices that form the physical underlay support OpenFlow.
Or they could work with vendors and partners to develop platforms that can bridge the gap for controlling existing ageing devices.
Thirdly, companies should start thinking about bringing in new skill-sets around DevOps. This could be re-training of existing staff or bringing on board new people with such skills.
In the meantime, they can work with vendors with such skills to help bridge the gap through training and professional services in software development and scripting.
The New IP brings dynamic new market opportunities
The New IP creates new opportunities not just for vendors but also for companies deploying it.
The agility with which businesses can move in response to market conditions will not only help with customer retention, but attract new ones as well.
The transformation has already started with many businesses learning and testing such solutions, and companies who chose to stand still will be left behind.
By Andy Miller - Country Manager, Brocade New Zealand