Is Your Approach to SDN Putting Lipstick on Your Networking Pig?

Your network is ugly. I know you agree, even if you don’t want to publicly admit it. If it looks like any of the organizations I’ve visited recently, your network is an aging hodgepodge of hardware and software, stitched together with antiquated protocols. Racks here. Wires there.

And, it’s breaking. Unfortunately for you, it’s breaking at the worst possible time.

Every day, the business puts more pressure on the network–new applications to run, more devices to attach, more bandwidth to provision and an endless stream of users to connect. Cloud-Mobile-Analytics-Social has forever transformed the speed of business, but also created a yawning agility gap between the speed of the business and the capability of the network.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is supposed to solve this challenge; however, while it does promise a simpler, more agile architectural approach, many prevailing models are incomplete.

Most effort has been focused on the data center. Many approaches advocate for the introduction of new hardware or software overlays to enable SDN, but the paradox is that these attempts to deliver greater simplicity have resulted in additional complexity.

Is transitioning from CLI scripting to open-source programming the answer? How many programmers will you need to get going? How much training will be required to ramp up and be able to maintain this new environment? The foundation is cracked, and it’s just lipstick on a pig unless it’s addressed.

Let’s look at some of the real-life woes I’m seeing and hearing:

Hospitals are being blanketed by mobile devices, in addition to highly-mobile, and often remote, care teams. Diagnostic equipment like X-ray machines come to the patient, producing results immediately accessible by a specialist four cities away, who consults with the radiologist to recommend an immediate course of treatment to the attending physician.

Compliance regulations require security of the information as it traverses the network. Distribution requires bandwidth, speed and flexibility. Securely connecting everyone and everything could be a nightmare all its own, but there’s the added concern of protecting the rest of the network from increased risk that more users and devices can introduce.

Further, care teams exemplify the mobile workforce trend, which brings rising costs for connecting and provisioning services–even while there’s pressure to cut IT costs.

Boosted by the Internet of Things, this scenario is playing out in multiple industries: manufacturing, retail, financial services and governments developing Smart Cities.

All this means that the issues around service configuration, identified as the number one pain highlighted by IT professionals in a recent Avaya survey, are unlikely to decrease.

That is, unless there’s a new approach to close the gap.

Avaya SDN Fx takes that unique approach to specifically deliver simplicity beyond the data center. We think networks should simply be a dynamic series of plug-in points, so when IT personnel connect anything to the network, the network automatically handles traditionally manual network functions.

Avaya’s fabric-based SDN approach extends from the data center to the edge, to automate much of the networking functionality through software–making it easier for devices to connect securely to the enterprise network.

Avaya SDN Fx helps companies avoid the vendor lock-in that ultimately ossifies many networks. The open ecosystem that underpins Avaya SDN Fx includes standard protocols, open interfaces and open-source customization tools that provide the flexibility and agility to meet the current and future use cases arising from the Internet of Things.

The bottom line: When your network is already breaking, going with a networking vendor for SDN simply because they’re already in the closet is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Companies need to take a step back and find a trusted partner who will help build SDN strategies around actual use cases, their challenges and what they want to achieve. It’s only then that an SDN strategy will reap true benefits.

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