Organizations operate in a dynamic business environment that demands a fast response to changing business needs and market conditions, fast deployment of new applications, and fast rollout of new services. Users expect high performance and availability regardless of their location or the device they’re using. Of course, as demands and expectations are increasing, IT budgets are decreasing.

As a result, the data center is evolving to a private cloud model that provides greater flexibility, agility and scalability while reducing costs. A private cloud enables organizations to focus less on management and maintenance of infrastructure and more on the delivery of services. Resources are centrally controlled and automatically allocated according to policies, allowing IT to quickly deploy the tools users need, such as a new application, service or mobile device.

The traditional network isn’t capable of supporting the private cloud model, which requires flexible path management, granular policy enforcement, automation and the ability to support multiple vendors. Automated, efficient provisioning and sharing of network resources through orchestration is essential for supporting business operations and meeting goals. Largely manual traditional networks lack virtualization, automation and other capabilities, resulting in slow provisioning, bandwidth bottlenecks, poor resource utilization and increased risk. In fact, cost, complexity and a lack of workload mobility and flexibility in legacy networks are stalling innovation.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an emerging approach that makes the network highly automated and programmable. By separating the network control plane from the data-forwarding plane, a large number of devices that once required manual configurations can now be centrally controlled through a single SDN controller. Device-agnostic applications can be spun up and deployed in minutes instead of months. This makes it possible to fully leverage a private cloud network that is more flexible, reliable, scalable and cost-effective.

The following SDN features and functionality are critical to a successful private cloud network:

  • The ability to granularly program the network to meet specific user needs and support business processes.
  • Network-wide visibility, which enables efficient resource management and optimization.
  • Strict policy enforcement that enhances security and ensures regulatory compliance.
  • Automation and orchestration of resource management and provisioning.
  • Open standards that allow the use of hardware from multiple vendors.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the OpenStack open-source cloud computing platform and explain how OpenStack’s SDN solutions provide a path to the cloud.