[Editor’s note: This blog is sponsored by Infosim®, but the content is entirely my own]

As enterprises advance from exploratory mode to actual deployment of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), they need to be thinking about how they will manage these new technologies.

Over the last two years, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research has shown that most enterprises do not believe that their incumbent network management systems are ready to fully support SDN. EMA recommends that early adopters of these technologies immediately ascertain the SDN and NFV roadmaps of their existing network management vendors before they begin any such network transformation projects.

SDN Management Considerations

New functional requirements for managing SDN and NFV are still emerging, but some things have become quite clear. Network management systems will need new interfaces for interacting with cloud orchestration systems and SDN controllers. New network devices that provide a great deal of data about the overall network, SDN controllers also have tremendous impact on network state, given their ability to program other network devices. Two-way integration between a network management system and an SDN controller allows that network management system to do the following:

  • Discover the SDN network and assemble a topology
  • Manage configuration of SDN devices
  • Collect fault and performance information on an SDN controller and present this information to network operators

To support NFV, network management systems will also need to integrate with cloud orchestration systems, which are key enablers of the cloud environments that often host the virtual network functions of an organization’s NFV project.

Finally, network management systems must be prepared to manage hybrid SDN networks. SDN and legacy networks will coexist in many environments, and network operators will need end-to-end visibility and management across both environments. Therefore, the legacy southbound interfaces that network management systems use to perform configuration, fault, and performance management of legacy environments will remain relevant for quite some time.

Network management system vendor Infosim® not only has a roadmap for SDN and NFV support but it also offers support for such environments today. Infosim® StableNet® offers generic interfaces that can be extended to the cloud computing environments that many organizations currently use for their NFV projects, including OpenStack, VMware vCloud, and CloudStack. StableNet® also offers a REST application programming interface (API) for integration with SDN controllers for discovery and management of SDN. Today, the StableNet® REST API integrates with OpenDaylight. Support for the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) controller is also part of the StableNet® roadmap.

EMA research is focused on identifying other SDN-related functional requirements for network management systems. We recommend that enterprises visit the EMA research library to help them identify other requirements to prepare themselves for managing SDN.