Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Software-defined networking for the future

On the Edge

Article from ADMIN 74/2023
The history, technical underpinnings, and possible future standards of software-defined networking for 5G, IoT, and edge computing.

Networks can be virtualized, just like servers, storage, or entire data centers. The technology is based on developments at Stanford University, and today, the Open Networking Foundation is continuing the work with new projects. Proprietary implementations are also available from major vendors.

The principle is always the same: The physical hardware and software are separated, and functions previously cast in hardware are implemented in the software. The rewards of software-defined networking (SDN) are greater flexibility and a loosening of vendor tie-in.

Providers and enterprises need to design and leverage technologies (e.g., remote, mobile, cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, virtual reality, containers, microservices, and service meshes) for flexibility. The idea is to provide connections or change quality of service (QoS) in minutes, rather than months. Users want additional functionality, such as enhanced security, on demand and only for specific data streams, time periods, or routes and no longer want to book and pay for these services combined.

SDN Layer Model

The SDN approach requires a departure from hardware-based thinking. In addition to the separation of software and hardware, network virtualization primarily means the separation of data and control paths. Several higher levels are implemented in the network, from which the underlying switches and routers (Layers 2 and 3 according to the network model) and their connections and qualities of service can be controlled. The aim here is to provide optimum conditions for all data and streams crossing the network and effectively keep unwanted intruders away from the data packets in transport.

In SDN infrastructures, the applications lie above a control layer in the context of network function virtualization (NFV). The basic standard for open SDN networking, OpenFlow, only allows the definition of a data

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