In the cloud era, a new network infrastructure is necessary to support the performance and bandwidth requirements of agile and innovative applications and platforms. In order to achieve the level of programmability and visibility desired, many enterprises are turning to software-defined networking (SDN).

SDN 101: SDN offers centralized visibility of the network with management optimization through a separation between the control plane and the forwarding plane. The control plane allows network administrators to manipulate multiple devices and monitor activity across the network. It has an open standards design that allows for vendor neutrality and allows administrators to apply load balancing and adjust traffic flows to improve agility.  

The necessity of employing an SDN solution means that many enterprises have networks that look far different from the traditional hub-and-spoke design that dominated IT for decades. While networks are improving in the ways related to design, implementation, and management, they do require a solid validation strategy.

Underlay Networks use leaf and spine physical switches handled by the SDN controller with exposed open application programming interfaces (APIs). The controller is integrated with the virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) to access relevant data for the virtual network.

Overlay Networks use virtual data plane (VDP) elements that are utilized through commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers and controlled within the SDN controller. Tunnels are used to route over the legacy network links and generally use a gateway.

Integrated Overlay Underlay Networks integrate both technologies to improve flexibility and network performance. It is becoming a popular choice because it ensures end-to-end visibility and better control.

The importance of SDN validation in testing is apparent as the impact of SDN implementation affects the entire technology stack. Integrated validation uses two approaches: vertical layer testing approach and horizontal layer testing approach.

Vertical testing includes network applications (onboarding, topology, deployment, and services), infrastructure (SDN controller functions, API tests, performance, and scale), and security (authorization and authentication, and secure control channel).

Horizontal testing includes data plane tests that include validating latency, throughput, and scalability. Control plane tests examine the SDN controller, response time and traffic flows. Management plane tests validate provisioning, onboarding time and applications, and security layers.

Given the pace of cloud migration, SDN is an approach to networking that will likely only grow. If your organization is considering implementing a network upgrade, SDN is a path that will allow more control and agility as you expand your investment in cloud solutions.

For more information about employing a reliable SDN validation strategy, contact us at Net Tel One Communications. We can help you evaluate your network needs and implement a solution that will support your bandwidth and performance requirements, as well as offer the control your network administrators need.