There seems to be countless acronyms to keep track of these days if you want to succeed in the world of networking. Software defined networking (SDN), and network function virtualisation (NFV) are important trends, but the vague terminology that vendors are using to refer to current hot-topic items is leading to serious confusion in the marketplace. Few professionals truly understand the new terms and what they mean.

The good news is that I’m going to offer you a quick intro into both SDN and NFV right here. So, let’s get down to it.

What is Software Defined Networking? (SDN)

Software defined networking is the concept of separating the control plane in a specific network, from the data plane that is used to direct network traffic. The aim of this process is to develop a network that is both programmable and centrally managed.

While some SDN implementations make the most of a software-based management platform, intended to control commodity network hardware, others use an integrated hardware and software solution. The technology is most commonly adapted and utilised in enterprise data centres, offering solutions for customers who need a network capable of adapting dynamically to the needs of their business.

SDN allows enterprises to stop relying on traditional networking architectures, and it has a number of sub-categories to explore, including software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN).

What is Network Function Virtualisation? (NFV)

Network Function Virtualisation was originally conceived by a range of telecommunication vendors searching for a solution that allowed them to have better control over how they provide network services to their customers. The overarching idea behind NFV is to virtualise common network services and remove them from the restrictions of dedicated hardware.

Most of the time, NFV deployments make use of commodity servers as a way of running software versions of the network services that might have previously been hardware based. These services for software are known as Virtual Network Functions, or VNF, and run exclusively within an NFV environment. For a better insight, examples of VNF might include firewalling, routing, load balancing, encryption, and WAN acceleration solutions.

By virtualising common services, providers have the opportunity to offer customers services on a more dynamic basis, with the ability to scale down and up on demand.

There are many other understandings of this technology, if you can help on this subject feel free to comment below.

Watch Eli’s video on SDN…

Rob is a Content Marketer, Publisher and Entrepreneur based in the North West of England.

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