Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an approach to computer networking which abstracts the hardware of the system, the control plane and the data plane

SDN is another technology that is revolutionising OSS. It is having a dramatic effect on traditional CSPs, allowing them to move from being network-based Telcos to software-based services companies.

It allows CSPs the ability to deliver new services via software rather than physical changeovers, giving more flexibility in the hardware. In theory, SDN provides CSPs with the ability to deliver new services into the hands of customers faster and more cost effectively.

This concept of “nearly instantaneous” roll-out of new services sounds good in theory but I wonder whether it is a company’s ability to cope with change that will dictate whether SDN delivers on the theoretical benefits. In my experience, it takes longer working through the people and process of a new service change, getting all the agreements, approvals and budget allocations than the actual implementation. No doubt the SDN model can reduce truck-rolls, but change management procedures and related testing could equally slow down a software roll-out.

The theories also don’t always take into account the down-stream system impacts that an ever-changing service catalogue has on a CSP’s OSS. Their OSS needs to be as equally flexible as the SDN to be able to keep up. There are some OSS that have been almost unworkable because of the never-ending change to service models that are thrust upon them.

In a nutshell, organisations that are nimble will benefit from SDN, especially the ones that have equally flexible and nimble OSS platforms.

Perhaps the biggest, yet often unwritten, benefit of SDN is the ability to run OSS in a more distributed way – to actually plug more OSS-level power on the network devices rather than just pushing data from them towards a centralised OSS.

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