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Decoding Software Defined Networking

Decoding Software Defined Networking

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Published by Michael Leonard

Demistify Software Defined Networking and Learn Juniper Networks' SDN Strategy.

Demistify Software Defined Networking and Learn Juniper Networks' SDN Strategy.

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Published by: Michael Leonard on Feb 11, 2013
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09/17/2013

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Copyright © 2013, Juniper Networks, Inc.
DECODING SOFTWAREDEFINED NETWORKING
Whitepaper
 
Whitepaper - Decoding SDN
2
Copyright © 2013, Juniper Networks, Inc.
Networking soware has been a drag on innovation across ourindustry. Because each network device must be congured indi-vidually—usually manually; literally rom a keyboard—networkscan’t keep pace with the on-the-y-changes required by mod-ern cloud systems. Internet companies like Amazon or Googlethat dedicate hundreds o engineers to their cloud systemshave built their own solution to network conguration but thisis not a reasonable approach or most companies to build theirprivate cloud. As virtualization and the cloud has revolution-ized computing and storage, the network has lagged behind.In the service provider world, carriers struggle to congure andmanage their networks. Like Google, they too have built oper-ational support systems to congure their networks but thesesystems are oen 20+ years old and they are crumbling romthe burden placed upon them by networking soware. For aservice provider, the network is their business, so they must lookto networking vendors to introduce new capabilities in order toenable new business opportunities. Here again, networkingsoware is ailing the industry—it is developed as a monolithic,embedded system and there is no concept o an application.Every new capability requires an update o the entire sowarestack. Imagine needing to update the OS on your Smartphoneevery time you load a new application. Yet that is what thenetworking industry imposes on its customers. What’s worse isthat each update oen comes with many other changes—andthese changes sometimes introduce new problems. So serviceproviders must careully and exhaustively test each and everyupdate beore they introduce it into their networks.Enterprise and service providers are seeking solutions to theirnetworking challenges. They want their networks to adjustand respond dynamically, based on their business policy. Theywant those policies to be automated so that they can reducethe manual work and personnel cost o running their net-works. They want to quickly deploy and run new applicationswithin and on top o their networks so that they can deliverbusiness results. And they want to do this in a way that allowsthem to introduce these new capabilities without disruptingtheir business. This is a tall order but SDN has the promise todeliver solutions to these challenges. How can SDN do this?To decode and understand SDN, we must look inside net-working soware. From this understanding, we can derive theprinciples or xing the problems. This is what SDN is all about.Here are six principles o SDN with corresponding customerbenets:
1. Cleanly separate
networking soware into our layers(planes): Management, Services, Control, and Forwarding—providing the architectural underpinning to optimize eachplane within the network.
2. Centralize
the appropriate aspects o the Management,Services and Control planes to simpliy network design andlower operating costs.
3. Use the Cloud
or elastic scale and exible deployment,enabling usage-based pricing to reduce time to service andcorrelate cost based on value.
4. Create a platform
or network applications, services, andintegration into management systems, enabling new businesssolutions.
5. Standardize protocols
or interoperable, heterogeneoussupport across vendors, providing choice and lowering cost.
6. Broadly apply SDN principles
to all networking and net-work services including security—rom the data center andenterprise campus to the mobile and wireline networks usedby service providers.
THE CHALLENGES WITH NETWORKING SOFTWAREWHAT IS SDN?
For the past year, soware-dened networking (SDN) has been the buzz o thenetworking world. But in many ways, networking has always been dened bysoware. Soware is pervasive within all o the technology that impacts ourlives and networking is no diferent. However, networks have been constrainedby the way soware has been congured, delivered and managed—literallywithin a box, updated monolithically, managed through command lines thatare throw-back to the days o mini-computers and DOS in the 1980’s.
DECODING SDN
 
Whitepaper - Decoding SDN
3
Copyright © 2013, Juniper Networks, Inc.
THE FOUR PLANES OF NETWORKING
Inside every networking and security device–every switch, rout-er, and rewall—you can separate the soware into our layersor planes. As we move to SDN, these planes need to be clearlyunderstood and cleanly separated. This is absolutely essentialin order to build the next generation, highly scalable network.
Forwarding.
The bottom plane, Forwarding, does the heavyliing o sending the network packets on their way. It is opti-mized to move data as ast as it can. The Forwarding planecan be implemented in soware but it is typically built usingapplication-specic integrated circuits (ASIC’s) that are de-signed or that purpose. Third party vendors supply ASIC’sor some parts o the switching, routing, and rewall markets.For high perormance and high scale systems, the ForwardingASIC’s tend to be specialized and each vendor provides theirown, dierentiated implementation. Some have speculatedthat SDN will commoditize switching, routing, and rewallhardware. However, the seemingly insatiable demand or net-work capacity generated by thousands o new consumer andbusiness applications creates signicant opportunity or di-erentiation in Forwarding hardware and networking systems.In act by unlocking innovation, SDN will allow urther dieren-tiation rom the vendors who build these systems.
Control.
I the Forwarding plane is the brawn o the network,Control is the brains. The Control plane understands the net-work topology and makes the decisions on where the ow onetwork trac should go. The Control plane is the trac copthat understands and decodes the alphabet soup o network-ing protocols and ensures that the trac ows smoothly. Veryimportantly, the Control plane learns everything it needs toknow about the network by talking to its peer in other devices.This is the magic that makes the Internet resilient to ailures,keeping trac owing even when a major storm like Sandybrings down thousands o networking devices.
Services.
Sometimes network trac requires more processingand or this, the Services plane does the job. Not all networkingdevices have a Services plane—you won’t nd this plane in asimple switch. But or many routers and all rewalls, the Ser-vices plane does the deep thinking, perorming the complexoperations on networking data that cannot be accomplishedby the Forwarding hardware. Services are the place where re-walls stop the bad guys and parental controls are enorced.They enable your Smartphone to browse the web or stream avideo, all the while ensuring you’re properly billed or the privi-lege. The Services plane is ripe or innovation.
Management.
Like all computers, network devices need tobe congured, or managed. The Management plane providesthe basic instructions o how the network device should in-teract with the rest o the network. Where the Control planecan learn everything it needs rom the network itsel, the Man-agement plane must be told what to do. Today’s networkingdevices are oen congured individually. Frequently, they aremanually congured using an esoteric command line interace(CLI), understood by a small number o network specialists.Because the conguration is manual, mistakes are requentand these mistakes sometimes have serious consequences—cutting o trac to an entire data center or stopping trac ona cross-country networking highway. Service providers worryabout backhoes cutting ber optic cables but more requently,their engineers cut the cable in a virtual way by making a sim-ple mistake in the complex CLI used to congure their networkrouters or security rewalls.While the Forwarding plane uses special purpose hardwareto get its job done, the Control, Services, and Managementplanes run on one or more general purpose computers. Thesevary in sophistication and type, rom very inexpensive proces-sors within consumer devices to what is eectively a high-endserver in larger, carrier-class systems. But in all cases today,these general purpose computers use special purpose so-ware that is xed in unction and dedicated to the task at hand.That inexibility is the root o the issue that has sparked theinterest in SDN.I you crawled through the soware inside a router or rewalltoday, you’d nd all our o the networking planes. But withtoday’s soware, that networking code is built monolithicallywithout cleanly dened interaces between the planes. Whatyou have today are individual networking devices, with mono-lithic soware, that must be manually congured. This makeseverything harder than it needs to be.
ManagementServicesControlForwarding
NETWORK PLANESTODAY’S NETWORK DEVICES
 CLI
 F o r w a r d i n g 
  S e  r  v  i c e s

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