Town Hall: Unlocking Digital Information with Software-Defined Networks
Author:CSC Town Hall
Growing demand for network resources and connections between information sources has brought the classic enterprise network architecture to a developmental crossroad. In today’s enterprise, traditional networks can’t adequately manage diverse workloads and changing load patterns, or accommodate new services and capabilities coming from outside the data center. Our panel of experts from CSC and AT&T discuss how organizations are increasingly moving to software-defined networks (SDNs) to provide applications and users with the contextualized just-in-time information they need.
- Rafat Shaheen, Lead Global Solutions Executive and Member of CSC’s CTO Office
- James Hanley, Vice President of Data Center and Platform Offerings, CSC
- Rajesh Natarajan, CTO - System Integrator Segment, AT&T
- Jeff Caruso, Senior Managing Editor, CSC
Unlocking Digital Information with Software-Defined Networks
Growing demand for network resources and connections between information sources has brought the classic enterprise network architecture to a developmental crossroad. In today’s enterprise, traditional networks can’t adequately manage diverse workloads and changing load patterns, or accommodate new services and capabilities coming from outside the data center.
James Hanley, vice president of Data Center and Platform Offerings at CSC, says software-defined networks (SDNs) are poised to answer those needs, ushering in a new era of network architecture and operation that will influence the IT stack from bottom to top.
“SDNs are an open, programmable way to build networks that manage bandwidth utilization on demand, combined with security protocols and standards that can be called on by applications in an automated way.”
Rafat Shaheen, lead global solutions executive at CSC, says traditional networks emerged from an Internet-inspired architecture that focused on resiliency. Enterprise networks, he says, have additional needs such as resource utilization, optimization, cost management and performance.
“SDNs are probably the biggest thing to happen in networks over the past two decades,” Shaheen says. “Separating the routing and switching functions from the data forwarding function gives you a better view of network resources and allows you to implement policy management at a global scale to communicate with applications and adapt as necessary.”
Shaheen says there are four broad areas of application for SDNs:
- Drawing strict lines around access to applications and data (microsegmentation) to mitigate inbound threats and outbound data leakage
- Bandwidth slicing and traffic isolation based on a group of users, a class of service or a type of device being connected
- Application-aware routing that enables prioritization based on an application’s sensitivity to latency
- Operational control that permits improved resource utilization such as shutting down unneeded resources and rerouting traffic during low demand periods
Rajesh Natarajan, CTO - System Integrator Segment at AT&T, says SDNs offer the enterprise new capabilities that result in improved customer service as well as improved performance, cost and security.
“For example, if you’re a hospital and you have to send X-rays over, you’d typically batch process those at night to avoid affecting network performance. With an SDN, you can request increased bandwidth immediately so those can be processed faster, then reduce bandwidth when that task is done,” he says.
Companies don’t have to wait to get started, Shaheen says. “SDNs can be implemented in an incremental, iterative process. All of our customers have SDNs defined in their strategic vision and now is the time to start testing with some limited use cases,” he says.
“I think it’s important for an enterprise to look back over their strategy to single out use cases that are important for you – where you might be having difficulty or you see an opportunity to provide better service to the business is key,” Hanley says. “It could be data center general purpose-type environments, or you have 100,000 hosts and you’re having issues with connectivity and management. Maybe you want to augment a private cloud with public cloud connectivity that scales up and down.”
This is a use case with which AT&T and CSC are very familiar.
“What we have between AT&T and CSC is relatively unique,” Natarajan says. “CSC’s Agility platform has an API with the AT&T NetBond platform which allows customers to securely access a public cloud and a private cloud with orchestration in between. I think the type of use cases we can enable with this is phenomenal.”