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October 2013 / Vol 4 / No.5

Seeking network efficiency? SDN may -- or may not -- be the answer

Almost every vendor pushing software-defined networking (SDN) of any flavor sells the technology on its efficiency -- networking that is programmable, flexible and can simply do more with less hardware and labor. The problem is that the efficiency everyone is looking for is operational efficiency -- which at its core means a more favorable ratio of business input versus business output as measured against some benchmark like operating profit. Yet the efficiency that SDN truly delivers is more aptly described in terms of long-term improvement, largely because the time to recoup operational efficiencies is longer than most people realize. SDN can best be described as a group, or ecosystem, of technologies. The two central elements of SDN strategy are the abstraction of multiple aspects of traditional networking and the opening of APIs for network programmability. As a group, SDN technologies have some intriguing use cases that will likely lead to a decrease in at least one input to the operational efficiency equation: operational ...

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