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Application-aware networking is the capacity of an intelligent network to maintain current information about applications that connect to it and, as a result, optimize their functioning as well as that of other applications or systems that they control. The information maintained includes application state and resource requirements.
The ability to benefit from application awareness relies upon software-defined networking (SDN). SDN removes the control plane from network hardware and implements it in software instead, which enables dynamic control and the ability to allocate resources, at any given moment, to best effect.