How to Support the Cloud With Software-Defined Networking

By Jesse Haller

Feb 9, 2021 10:43:11 AM

About 6 minutes

The way companies use cloud has been evolving. Organizations are turning to new types of cloud services and branching out into hybrid cloud and multicloud environments. This transformation in the way the cloud is being leveraged puts greater demands on the supporting network infrastructure. 

The cloud needs to be supported by a robust network that is safe, fast, and reliable. Workloads and data must be transmitted between endpoints, the data center, and the cloud. In hybrid cloud and multicloud environments, the network is relied upon to move information between cloud instances and private and public cloud models. 

Software-defined networking (SDN) supports the cloud by delivering network virtualization, custom programmability, simplified architectures, and true openness, allowing for a more agile, powerful, and secure network in your cloud. 

What Is SDN? 

The main goals of an SDN are to bring agility and flexibility to the network so that you can rapidly adapt to any business changes or needs quickly. This agility is accomplished through an approach to architecture that separates the control plane of the network from the data plane. This separation allows companies to control or “program” policy-based management systems for the entire network.  

Workload balancing and provisioning of network resources can be automated using these policies. Essentially, SDN virtualizes the whole network. This network virtualization helps organizations manage the entire network infrastructure holistically regardless of the underlying technology. 

With SDN, routing and switching decisions can be made based on a full view of the network. This level of visibility is crucial in today’s complex multicloud environments. 

Flexible Networking 

By using SDN in the cloud, companies can respond more quickly to changes. The entire network can be programmed to respond to shifting workload needs. When workload requirements change, adjustments can be made quickly across the network using software code. Network engineers no longer need to make these changes by reprogramming individual switches, which can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive task that is prone to accident. Now the process easily can be automated with a button. 

These adjustments to the network can be made while interacting with different cloud models. All of this can also be done from a single pane of glass, regardless of your chosen cloud model. With SDN, the network can support many configurations and meet the demands of specific cloud workloads. You can also prioritize your workloads for more effective and agile management. 

High-Performance Networking 

The cloud is only as powerful as its supporting network. To give users a satisfying experience, the cloud must deliver 99.999% availability. SDN allows for this high level of availability. 

SDN can potentially create some issues with latency under certain flow control or application conditions, but the greater scalability, amount of bandwidth you can achieve, and the massive increase in cloud workloads you can support outweigh any negatives you could find. Greater visibility into the entire network also makes it possible to identify and resolve issues quickly before they can cause a bottleneck. 

Secure Networking 

Multicloud and hybrid cloud environments can create risk because data must travel from where it is being generated to the cloud or even between different cloud environments and instances. SDN also helps with network security, protecting data as it travels to and from the cloud. 

SDN has automated processes for workload automations, control rollbacks, workflow telemetry, and analytics, taking over many security functions that typically would be handled by intrusion detection and prevention systems or firewalls. With SDN, these tools can be deployed as applications directly in the network controller.  

SDN takes a granular approach to network security by blocking malicious traffic without interrupting legitimate workflows. The SDN can also collect data to be used to create algorithms that detect potential attacks. 

The Future of Cloud Networking 

As cloud environments become more complex, SDN may become the future of network for the cloud. Allied Market Research identified increasing cloud adoption as a key driver for the growth of the SDN market, showing that companies recognize the role SDN plays in supporting the cloud. 

SDN also provides a gateway to software-defined everything, in which your company takes advantage of software-defined storage, networking, security, and data center. 

ProActive Solutions can help your business transition to SDN for cloud. We offer SDN along with other software-defined solutions. Our partnership with Cisco gives our customers access to leading SDN solutions that can transform their approach to networking for the cloud. 

Find out more about software-defined options for your business. Read the ProActive eBook The Complete Guide to Software-Defined Everything

Tags: hybrid cloud, Cloud, software-defined networking, SDN, network, multicloud, Cisco