It looks like software defined networks (SDNs) are well on their way to becoming the most popular management approach for the implementation and operation of organized networks. Today, networking revolves around policy, efficiency, and ensuring that each network is capable of handling the needs of an organization. With WLAN also an integral component of most organizations, you may be wondering how it fits together with SDN. In today’s mobile world, where nearly everyone has a smartphone or a tablet at their side, it may seem that WLAN is all everyone’s talking about. Given the popularity of wireless devices in the workplace, it makes sense to wonder how their wireless capabilities will fit into SDN based network architectures. Let’s check it out.
In the past, WLANs have been working endlessly to address traffic-flow issues. Because a radio channel is accessed serially, the importance of a network’s reliability cannot be overstated. SDN’s integration with WLAN will give complete control of wired and wireless networks, delivering a number of additional benefits, including reduced costs and increased productivity.
Some application vendors such as Microsoft provide SDN APIs, allowing WLAN vendors information to offer better tools for network monitoring, diagnosis, and application specific quality of service. With OpenFlow allowing WLAN controllers and integrating similar capabilities, WLAN vendors are able to assist IT teams ensure a quality of service for these applications. SDN enabled wireless connections are especially beneficial to organizations with a highly mobile workforce, such as construction or healthcare.
Joel Snyder, a senior IT consultant writes that “SDN vendors don’t have many LAN installations yet because they’re more data center– focused, so some of these issues haven’t come up yet. But by pushing switches with commodity components at the absolutely lowest cost, some SDN proponents are boxing themselves into a corner when it comes to network architecture and aiming at a very narrow environment.”
Ajay Malik of NetworkComputing writes, “SDN-enabling QoS and security through the WLAN controller provides multiple benefits, centralizing network visibility and control, simplifying management, reducing costs, and saving time. Implementing this should be easy for IT, with minimal changes and retraining, requiring only software upgrades to WLAN controllers and navigation of a few new user interfaces.”