SDN Architectures and Deployment Considerations

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Are you lucky enough to be one of the 87% of North American enterprises that plan to have SDN in production by 2016 or one of the 53% of the companies that plan to have SDN deployed in the near future? In that case, you might want to have the answers to these fundamental questions:

  • Does it make sense to program your network or deploy an SDN solution?
  • What are the associated risks?
  • What is the architecture of the SDN solution you want to use?
  • How does it interact with the networking elements - is it an orchestration system, or does it take over the packet forwarding rules?
  • How do you integrate the SDN solution with the rest of the network?
  • Do we need out-of-band management network?
  • What are the security implications of controller-based networks? What are the new attack vectors?
  • How will we troubleshoot the SDN controller and its interaction with the network elements?
  • What's the impact of a controller failure? Will the network continue to operate?
  • What's the impact of control- or management-plane network partitioning? Will you lose some network elements if that happens?

We'll discuss most of these questions and give you the best answers we can given the current state of SDN in a 2-hour SDN Deployment Considerations webinar.

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Contents

Four paths to SDN: SDN products use numerous approaches to controller-based networking that should provide the desired abstractions, from centralized control plane, control- and management-plane interactions using existing or emerging protocols to decoupling (overlay) approaches and proprietary device APIs.

This section describes the existing network protocols one can use in an SDN implementation, their advantages and limitations, and the role of emerging protocols like XMPP, OVSDB and I2RS.

Architectural considerations: The crucial question one should as when evaluating an SDN solution is “where’s the split between controller and network devices” – is it between control- and data plane, or somewhere higher up the stack?

The answer to this question provides numerous insights into the behavior of an SDN solution, from the impact of controller bugs and failures, impact of network partitions, to size of the failure domain and scalability aspects.

Sample controller-based architectures. This section focuses on failure impact and risk analysis of numerous controller-based architectures including:

  • Device and service provisioning- and orchestration systems;
  • Overlay virtual networking solutions;
  • Routing and forwarding adjustment controllers;
  • Centralized control plane arhictectures.

Build or Buy? Should you build your own SDN solution or buy a commercial product? Should you program your network or leave it to vendors and third-party applications? What skills do you need if you want to develop your own network automation application? How can you minimize the risk to network operations? How will you gain the trust in your solution? You’ll find most of the answers in this section.

Security aspects of controller-based networks. Controller-based networks provide a whole set of new attack surfaces, from control-plane attacks to denial-of-service attacks against the controller or device-to-controller communication. This section describes the potential threats and describes several well-known solutions you can use to improve the security of your controller-based network.

SDN Integration challenges. In most cases you have to deploy an SDN solution within or next to an existing network. How hard is it to integrate the two? Can you use existing protocols? Gateways? New hardware? This section provides some of the guidelines you should use when evaluating potential SDN solutions.

SDN Troubleshooting challenges. Do you need new troubleshooting skills when deploying an SDN solution? Of course. How hard will it be? We’ll figure it out in this section.

About the Author

Ivan Pepelnjak

Ivan Pepelnjak (CCIE#1354 Emeritus) has been designing, deploying, operating and troubleshooting IP-based enterprise and service provider networks since 1990. He’s the author of EIGRP and MPLS books published by Cisco Press, numerous articles and highly praised webinars, including VMware NSX Architecture, Real-life OpenFlow-based SDN Use Cases, Data Center 3.0 for Networking Engineers, and Cloud Computing Networking.

His blog, where you'll find numerous SDN- and OpenFlow articles, is usually considered one of the best technology-focused internetworking blogs.

More about Ivan Pepelnjak

Delivery format

The SDN Deployment Considerations is a 2-hour technical presentation available as a set of downloadable videos that you can buy in our online store; we can also organize an on-site SDN, OpenFlow, NFV and SDDC workshop, where the topics of this presentation are combined with in-depth discussion of other data center, OpenFlow or SDN topics that apply to your network.

Happy Campers

About the webinar

SDN is rapidly evolving and is perfused with different and sometimes inconsistent points of view. The discussion in this webinar provided a pragmatic and valuable leveling of concepts and terminology, enabling me to make more sense of otherwise balkanized technical and market domain.

Dennis R Moreau
great webinar to attend
krishnan narayan
Good overview on the SDN topic
Andrew Strobel

About the materials

A nice complement would be to have sessions that consider and make sense of the choices and comments of major adopters (the debate in the market). For example, a consideration of BT's Oct 2014 comments on OpenStack and BT's consequent commitment to the effort. There has been some suggestion that this was BT's attempt to get the standards process to move faster and more comprehensively.
Other early OpenStack adotpers are also getting more vocal.
Dennis R Moreau
I was looking for vendor specific SDN offiering.

I was looking for info on Juniper contrail in detail.
krishnan narayan
one topic I missed: sdn across overlay and underlay -> this is a topic that has limits (e.g. integration between vmware nsx and Cisco ACI) or how to extend a vmware nsx environment to the physical leafswitch (hw vtep)
another important topic: automated deployment of service function chaining
Andrew Strobel

Tweets

Just attended a great SDN webinar by @ioshints. If you are deploying #SDN you need to check out this webinar.
@anastarsha

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