The growing complexity of traditional networking in modern IT services requires businesses to deploy technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to provide more flexible network infrastructure management.
As networking evolves in today’s IT environment, these technologies enable enterprises to handle large amounts of data on the cloud with higher efficiency and at lower costs. But while both SDN and NFV offer network virtualization capabilities, they do so in different ways.
Below, we’ll compare SDN vs. NFV technologies, exploring their benefits and best use cases.
Software-driven networking (SDN) involves using application programming interfaces (APIs) to direct network traffic over a company’s hardware infrastructure. As a network management tool, SDN helps administrators remotely manage networks without the burden of doing so physically.
The core components of SDN architecture include:
The main benefits of using SDN for network management include:
In practice, SDN can help organizations optimize their network management operations to make them more agile and flexible in the short and long term.
Network management via SDN enables:
Unlike SDN, network functions virtualization (NFV) transitions network services from a manual hardware environment into a virtual production one with end-to-end automation. And in comparison to traditional hardware-based network functions, NFV automates the network management lifecycle, simplifying processes like network testing, configuration and troubleshooting.
The key components of NFV architecture include:
Using NFV for network management offers several benefits:
In the IT space, you can use NFV technology for a wide range of applications:
In general, SDN functions best as a technology to centralize the management of virtual networks, whereas NFV separates VNF technologies spread across virtual servers. Although SDN is typically used at a much smaller enterprise scale, NFV tends to be more beneficial for service providers, like telecom companies that offer their services to hundreds or thousands of customers.
However, SDN and NFV technologies are complementary, meaning you can use SDN to virtualize your existing networks and then leverage NFV to manage network-based software applications. When used together, SDN and NFV can enhance cloud-based network management, improving scalability while reducing the cost of managing large network infrastructures.
When comparing NFV vs. SDN to decide which technology to implement, essential considerations include:
Implementation of either technology will come down to your organization’s specific needs. If you’re just looking to virtualize network services like firewalls or routers, an NFV might be a better option. It will likely reduce costs and scale up easily as your network demand increases.
However, if you’re more interested in optimizing the performance of your networks and controlling network traffic more easily, SDN will likely be the preferred technology to adopt.
Ideally, a phased approach to adopting SDN and NFV technologies might make sense so you’re not suddenly managing massive network infrastructure. Before deploying any of these technologies at scale, conduct an IT network assessment to fully define the existing gaps in your physical and virtual networks.
As the landscape of NFV and SDN technologies evolves, companies must understand how these technologies best apply to their unique business environments. With the increased adoption of network virtualization options, there will likely be greater optimization of these technologies and how they function across different IT environments.
Expanding your network resources also requires an investment in security to ensure it functions optimally 24/7. Partnering with a network management specialist like Helixstorm can help you secure your network infrastructure without incurring exorbitant costs.
Contact us to learn more and get started optimizing your network visualization options.