SDN Switch vs. Non-SDN Switch

SDN or software-defined networking offers a set of protocols for network management, which helps to increase the mobility and agility of computer networks. Even though this is a new technology, SDN is gaining widespread acceptability. The SDN environment relies on the use of the OpenFlow type of switch or program to transmit data packets.

Despite the growth in SDN technology, many users are unable to discern whether they should switch over to SDN technology or continue in the non-SDN environment. This article provides an overview of SDN and non-SDN switches, which discusses the need for adapting to an SDN switch environment.

What Is SDN Or Software-Defined Networking?

SDN enables networks to be powered by using defined processes as a tool. For example, it enables users to program a particular network by building a tap without having to use any other appliance or device. Before understanding how switching SDN technology works, it can help to know that networks operate at two levels or planes—control and data.

SDN technology allows networks to be programmed by isolating the control panel which directs the network how to transmit data from its counterpart, i.e., data plane which transmits packets to their identifiable destinations. SDN technology then uses programmable switches to perform its functions. It uses SDN controllers to program switches. These controllers operate under OpenFlow technology, which is a reliable control protocol in the networking industry.

What Is An SDN Switch?

An SDN switch is a core for switching SDN technology, and a Cisco SDN training can teach you how this technology works. When an SDN switch acquires a data packet for which the flow is not known, it reaches out to the SDN controller, known as the server, for instructions as to what to do with the data packet. This constitutes the match and exit port.

Once this is done, the controller downloads what is known as a ‘flow’ which can involve some manipulation of the data packets. After downloading the flow to the SDN switch, identical packets are switched at high speed.

The central server contains information about the layout of the network and is capable of making relevant decisions about switching and building paths to create new competencies. Following are some of the advantages of using SDN switches:

  1. SDN controllers can be used to route non-essential or high volume data traffic across routes with idle capacity or with a longer path.
  2. An SDN controller can send the first few data packets to the firewall of the system. After the flow is accepted by the firewall, the controller bypasses it to remove the load from it to allow large data centers to be created.
  3. Load balancing is achieved easily by using an SDN controller at high volume data. It directs different data flows to a variety of hosts simply by setting up the initial data flows.
  4. Isolating data items from the bulk traffic is possible without getting help from a VLAN. Instead, SDN controllers have the power to deny certain connections to be set up.
  5. SDN controllers can help in setting up TAP or sniffers without any hassle. These can be dedicated to specific ports or traffic routes. All that is needed is to program the network so it can send duplicate data streams to the monitoring source.
  6. With SDN controllers, developing new data services and innovative ideas is possible, thanks to the software that operates the OpenFlow system.
  7. Cisco SDN certification can help you get an edge in adapting to SDN switching.

SDN Switch Vs. Non-SDN switch

SDN networking relies heavily on the use of SDN switches. An SDN switch typically works without the cooperation of other parts of the network and is capable of independent functioning in the working environment.

The second aspect of the difference between an SDN and non-SDN switch is the path, followed by the data packets. In the traditional system which operates under optical switching devices, data packets are forwarded and routed on a single device. In contrast, the OpenFlow operated SDN switch isolates the control and data paths from one another. A dedicated controller decides the routes to be taken by these data packets. OpenFlow protocol is used extensively for communication between the controller and the switch.

Ease of use is another factor to be considered when differentiating an SDN switch vs. non-SDN switch. Under the old model, each switch was required to be configured individually in a command-line interface after logging in.

Now, with the new SDN switches powered by OpenFlow technology, the switches can be programmed by entering commands in the form of OpenFlow messages. This programming is achieved with the help of the SDN controller for all switches. To put it a bit differently, SDN controllers rely on OpenFlow technology which serves as the interface for programming switches.

The Need for Dedicated SDN Switches

There is no need to acquire dedicated SDN switches for implementing an SDN. A variety of approaches can be used to create the architecture for different SDNs, which can evolve as the needs of the network become more complex. Different vendors can develop their own ways of implementing an SDN.

Recently, Nicira was acquired by VMware after which there are plans to implement an SDN protocol into its switching software. There is no need for dedicated controllers or any other hardware. Similarly, a number of different suppliers offer dedicated controllers, which may or may not be specific to OpenFlow. They can be used with other protocols.

A Final Word

SDN technology represents a new approach to network management, which offers greater flexibility, scalability, and independence for network managers. OpenFlow technology is an advancement over the existing technologies which offer new opportunities for transmitting data packets easily without being dependent on a single kind of network architecture.

To learn more about SDN switching technology and how you can benefit from it, read some more articles about OpenFlow and data packet transmission or contact us to address specific queries. If you are interested in implementing an SDN switching system in your organization, get in touch with a consultant by clicking here.