The staggering growth in mobile devices, BYODs, cloud services, server virtualization and big data centers combined with the huge amounts of traffic generated by companies such as Facebook, Inc. (FB) , Google, Inc. (GOOG) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) , calls for reexamination of network architectures. The above, naturally, also creates great demand for mobility and bandwidth. Meeting such demands with traditional network architectures is close to impossible, and telecommunications companies find themselves struggling to meet such demands with ill-suited network architectures that were not designed for todays' dynamic pace and lifestyle. Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) is a suggested technology to overcome the challenge of signal loss when meeting such great demands in an urban environment. However, multiple issues still remain, and pose a great challenge:
Challenges for Traditional Network Architectures
- Convoluted System Operation – In order for any network update, configuration, change or maintenance to be implemented, IT managers need to operate on both devices-level, as well as protocol mechanisms. This includes multiple switches, routers, firewalls, VLANs not to mention vendor specifications and software versions to name a few considerations.
Changing Traffic Patterns – Traffic patterns within a single enterprise data center change and vary dramatically. A single data center handles machine-to-machine traffic, multiple databases and servers, multiple applications, connection from anywhere, anytime and all simultaneously.
Mobility – BYODs make for "personal interface" with the corporate network and data, posing yet another challenge for securing the corporate's intellectual property and meeting with compliance.
Big Data – Today's mega datasets being processed on thousands of servers simultaneously, in parallel and with each other requires unimaginative bandwidth. Scalability, maintenance and operation are an intimidating task for any CIO.
Software Defined Networking (SDN)
In the last few years, an emerging architecture has surfaced – Software Defined Networking (SDN). The architecture is dynamic and allows for IT personnel to quickly respond and alter the architecture on a need basis. SDN also enables to shape traffic from a single centralized console, bypassing the need to configure multiple switches, routers and devices. The SDN decouples the system that makes decisions regarding where traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to selected destinations (the data plane).
SDN Added Values
The SDN architecture offers several added-values that provide alternative to bypassing challenges posed by traditional network architectures:
Directly Programmable: Due to the fact that the network control is decoupled from forwarding functions, it is directly programmable.
Agility: Separating control from forwarding provides IT personnel the flexibility to dynamically adjust network traffic on a need basis.
Centrally Managed: Network intelligence is centralized in software-based SDN controllers that provide a global view of the network. This appears as a single, logical switch making the whole operation of the system appear simple.
Programmatically Configured: Since the programs on the SDN do not depend on proprietary software, network managers can configure, manage, secure and operate the network quickly, dynamically with automated SDN programs which they can write themselves to tailor specific needs.
Open Standards-Based and Vendor Neutral: Implementation via open standards in SDN, simplifies the design and operation process of the network. This is due to the fact that all instructions are provided by the SDN controllers versus multiple vendors and protocols.
Mobile MESH-Based Solutions
In mission-critical-communications, communication solutions based on a similar technology are already being implemented by technology providers and is referred to as Mobile MESH. Combined with 4G technology, Mobile MESH delivers:
Mobility - Delivering HD video, data and VoIP on the move
No Need for Existing Communications Infrastructure - As with SDN, Mobile MESH does not depend on any existing hardware communications infrastructure.
Dynamic Network Adaptation - A dynamic network adaptation system consists of a virtual dynamic concentrator responsible for making optimal routing decisions. Optimized routing assures a no single point of failure network with maximum performance. Configurations can be changed according to network topology and surroundings.
Software Defined Radio (SDR) - Enables change, modification or configurations of the wireless link parameters to best fit and optimize the IT personnel specific application and usage.
Unbounded to 3rd Party Technologies and Constraints - Companies with technology that is designed and developed in-house and down to the bit provide control of every aspect of the technology.
Will Software Defined Networking (SDN) be the Next Mobile MESH for Big Data Corporates?
As of today, SDN may still be viewed as a trend rather than a leading technological solution for the many challenges raised here. However, as with other communications markets such as in mission-critical-communications where Mobile MESH has made its way as a leading technology that provides optimal wireless communications, it looks like SDN will pave its way as a leading big data architecture solution. IDC study predicts the SDN market will exceed $35 billion in revenues in 2016. Cisco CEO, John Chambers provides another supporting view with his victory claim in Cisco's SDN battle. Additionally, with the global shift towards software-based solutions, it's only a matter of time till SDN will be defined as the preferred option for big data architecture.
Yossi Segal is the Co-Founder& VP of Research and Development for Mobilicom
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