Sunday, October 26, 2014

What is software-defined networking?

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Many people have heard the term “software-defined networking,” or SDN. Fewer people understand, in practical terms, what SDN can do for them. In this post, I provide a brief introduction to SDN and describe what it can do for you in the cloud.

Perhaps the key advantage of the cloud is that is allows you to provision infrastructure and services quickly. Rather than having to order, install and configure a bunch of servers, you just spin up a bunch of virtual machines (VMs). Some cloud environments, such as IBM SoftLayer, allow bare metal servers to be provisioned as easily as VMs.

Of course, deploying an application requires not only servers, storage and networks (in other words, infrastructure), but also higher-level services. Example services include load balancers, web servers, application servers, databases and monitoring facilities. Automatic provisioning of server, storage and network infrastructure is known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Simplified deployment of higher level services is referred to as software as a service (SaaS).

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