One of the most powerful aspects of Software Defined Networking (SDN) is its potential to facilitate automation. Rapid and mechanized updates to network behavior and configuration produces not only faster time to service, but faster creation of new services.
Key Aspects of SDN
As a reminder, the three defining characteristics of SDN are:
Much of the early promotion of SDN has been on the use of OpenFlow protocol used to program the forwarding behavior of the network in a standard and open way. By deploying OpenFlow-enabled devices, a service provider could develop new services, and even new protocols, without upgrading the network. This OpenFlow-centric view of SDN has been hampered by the limited support of equipment in the network. Even so, it does have great promise for the future.
One alternative to OpenFlow is NETCONF. NETCONF provides not only a protocol for configuration of network elements, but it also provides an operational model as well as YANG for describing the configurable parameters of network elements. Some vendors have explicitly described NETCONF as a form of “multi-vendor SDN.” NETCONF has the advantage of being mature and somewhat widely deployed.
Another alternative to OpenFlow is to use RESTful interfaces for control of network elements. RESTful interfaces have the benefit of easy programming due to widespread experience and a rich set of tools and libraries. One drawback is the lack of consistent data models for network elements and services. Growing interest in the use of RESTful interfaces may spur work in the area of models.
About the Author
Prayson Pate is Chief Technology Officer and SVP of R&D at Overture, where he is also a co-founder. Prayson is a technology leader and evangelist with a proven track record leading teams and delivering products. Since 1983 he has been building Carrier Ethernet and telecom products for service providers and network operators around the world – both as an individual developer and as a leader of development teams. Prayson spends much of his time driving adoption of Overture’s new Ensemble Open Service Architecture, which includes aspects of automation, virtualization, SDN and NFV. He has a BSEE from Duke, an MSECE from NC State and is the holder of nine US patents.
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