With the digital transformation, the volume of data is and the number of devices used is increasing. This trend will continue with more and more IoT applications. This requires new possibilities in orchestrating and managing networks – which will not work without automation. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) promises the solution at this point. As a Software-Defined Data Center has already proven its potential. Now the technology seems to be slowly becoming a reality for local networks as well. Some companies already starting to implement SD-LAN. But what exactly is behind the trend? What are the advantages of the concept? What are the hurdles to practical implementation?
The advantages compared to LAN
The advantages of SD LANs over traditionally managed LANs are manifold and enormous – at least in theory. Companies with multiple branches have previously managed their traditional LANs locally at great expense. SD-LANs, on the other hand, promise a central Management LAN infrastructure, mapping in a single dashboard, and easier troubleshooting due to more direct configuration. This makes it easier for IT managers to keep track of the network, manage endpoints, and implement policies and standards globally. An SD-LAN creates an application- and policy-related architecture that combines hardware and software layers. This creates self-organized and automated networks that are easier to operate, integrate, segment, and scale.
SD LANs provide further relief when grouping users to give them dedicated access only to the areas on the network that they need for their work. In this way, SD-LANs also improve user experience. Security is already integrated into an SD LAN as part of the solution. This is because the technology enables different security rules to be defined for different users or user groups via micro-segmentation. In traditional LANs, this is complicated and difficult to manage. Overall, SD-LAN is more consistent to manage and scale than the traditional LAN. SD-LANs are thus pioneers for further digitization because they prevent the collapse of traditional LAN structures, which will inevitably be imminent.
After all, more and more devices are to be connected via LANs: smartphones, tablets, wearables or IoT applications, to name but a few. The majority of employees who work with PCs in companies now use laptops. They are not willing to accept blind points in Wi-Fi if they want to move around an office building and work with colleagues. The trend is therefore clearly towards a wireless-only strategy. Besides, many cloud applications require high network speeds. Traditional Wi-Fi and LAN infrastructures with their current performance are not sufficient for this.