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SDN has moved from theory to practise

by Citrix
January 2016
ADC | Cisco | SDN
A Practical Path to Automating Application Networks

Network World White paper on SDN: A Practical Path to Automating Networks Download

Enterprises are struggling to achieve the same level of agility in their networks as they do in virtualized and cloud computing environments. They need a more open, programmatic approach to network architecture—one that delivers scale, integration, and automation at every layer.

The promise of the automated datacentre is becoming a reality thanks to software-defined networking (SDN). With infrastructure able to adapt to the requirements of users and applications, the implications for IT teams are huge.

The origins

But SDN is not a new concept. In fact, its roots go back over 20 years to Stanford computer scientist Nick McKeown and his colleagues. The standard that they created – OpenFlow – and other SDN initiatives have since been heralded as a way to overcome the issues of adding new functions to legacy networks. In particular, SDN promised flexible networking technology to support cloud computing.

Yet doubts remained. SDN had followed the traditional imperative control model. As the network scaled, the controller would become a bottleneck.

But now that technology companies are tackling this problem head-on, SDN is fast becoming attractive to large enterprises. Some are already testing and adopting SDN strategies. That is because the goal of single-touch (even zero-touch) application deployment and reconfiguration is within their grasp. This makes SDN so much more exciting than just adding extra network flexibility.

Working together on the OpFlex open policy protocol, Cisco and Citrix are helping enterprises realise this goal and go beyond the previous limitations of SDN. OpFlex is much more powerful than OpenFlow because it does not try to mimic the old model of networking. Instead, OpFlex stems from Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) vision and strategy. Its advantage lies in bringing network, compute and storage together in a single pool. This can be provisioned instantly and automatically, according to the needs of the application.

The capability

OpFlex offers enterprises the potential to automate the whole stack – right the way up to the application. Importantly, it is being adopted by the IT community and backed by large vendors. That is because it provides the best path forward for network function virtualisation (NFV).

To achieve this, companies like AT&T, Google and Goldman Sachs need a failsafe approach to ACI. The integration of Citrix NetScaler ADC and Cisco ACI gives them this. NetScaler offers combined L4-7 load balancing, high-speed data compression and a powerful firewall. It also provides content caching, SSL acceleration and application flow visibility – all in a single, easy to use platform. Citrix has also ensured that the ADC is an integral part of the SDN/NFV controller set up.

The advantage

IT teams can bring the potential for SDN to fruition much faster than before with Citrix and Cisco. They can take a holistic approach to the entire stack to speed up and improve the user experience, alleviating the pressure to provision applications faster and more efficiently.

With the OpFlex approach and a clear path to NFV, enterprises can also reach the promise of the automated datacentre. It all begins with a single step in the right direction – SDN. Citrix NetScaler ADC and Cisco ACI allows enterprises to take that first step, while ensuring they have invested in the right tools to take advantage of NFV further down the line.

A Practical Path to Automating Application Networks

Network World White paper on SDN: A Practical Path to Automating Networks Download

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