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Software-defined networking has many benefits, but the right questions must be answered first. Colin Thornton, MD of Turrito, advises on what to consider when embarking on your SDN journey.

With businesses across sectors increasingly turning to software-defined networking (SDN) to boost network performance and efficiencies, decision-makers must understand what the transition requires. Moreover, there are key questions that need to be explored upfront with potential software-defined networking vendors and service providers.

Without doubt, adopting SDN has major benefits – chief among them being vastly improved scalability, increased control, and agility. Today, software-defined networking can provide the flexibility that can accommodate dynamic network environments that are ever-changing and complex.

So how does SDN work?

Software-defined networking is an approach that aggregates both the hardware and virtual aspects of your local area network (LAN), and thus provides a high-level and broad view of the network as a whole. On the contrary, hardware-based networks often require additional (and sometimes third party) software applications to monitor and report on traffic and alerts.

With successful migration to SDN solutions, however, visibility and control is centralised and always available. Arguably, the elements of increased visibility and greater control are becoming imperative for businesses in today’s fast-paced and digitally driven ecosystem.

But given that there are significant cost implications, how does a business know when SDN is truly the right solution?

To begin with, if your organisation’s goal or outcome is cost savings alone, then SDN is probably not the right approach (at least not at this point). While SDN provides greater flexibility and control of an internal / LAN network, it typically comes at a higher cost than legacy infrastructure. Over the long term, however, the intention is to provide new network efficiencies that eventually outweigh the initial costs.

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