Ask the Experts: Move Traffic Dynamically with SDN

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle discusses how SDN allows customers to move traffic dynamically with Level 3’s Director of Sales Engineering David Montgomery. Find out more about dynamic, next generation networks from David and the Level 3 team here:

Andrew: Okay. Here we go guys. Another Ask the Experts session and we’re talking about Advanced Data Networking. A really cool topic around SDN and NFV. I’ve asked one of the leading companies out there, Level 3, to jump in and talk about this, because it’s so core to what they’re doing in their next generation networks.
David Montgomery is the Director of Sales Engineering for Level 3. David, you spend a lot of time in this space. I’m glad you’re jumping in today. You’re going to make us all smarter. Welcome.
David: Thanks. Great to be here.
Andrew: All right, very cool. Hey, SDN and NFV: Software Defined Networking, Network Function Virtualization. A couple of terms we’re hearing a lot of buzz about. How are these terms similar? Are they two different things? Are they related and somewhat complimentary to each other? Give us some layman’s definitions of what SDN and NFV are.
David: Sure, sure. Thanks. I’ll start off with–you hit it perfectly there. They are definitely complimentary approaches to designing, deploying and managing networks. We’ll start with SDN, Software Defined Networking. This is where essentially we are taking the–either from a service provider perspective, or even an enterprise perspective–where you’re taking the control plane and the forwarding plane and decoupling them within the network, and becoming more efficient when you move packets throughout the network. Think of that control plane being the brains that sit out there and the forwarding plane is the muscle. Muscles moving packets around the network. It just creates a more efficient way to move traffic. It creates a more dynamic way to move traffic. And in the end, it’s just a better all-around experience for those end customers.
Andrew: Got it. That’s SDN.
David: That is SDN. When I always ask . . . I always look into some of the trends that are driving the adoption of this. Some of the things that are going on, that have been going on for a while–adoption of cloud services is really, really pushing a lot of this. The changes in computing and how networks need to operate these days. There’s clients that are out there BOYD–bringing your own device to a network requires certain security, certain flexibility within a network. On top of all that, you’ve got these multitude of applications that are all different, that all have different requirements as they run traffic across the backbone.
Andrew: Got it. Interesting. I want to talk more about the use cases there in just a second. But before we do that–as we’ve seen things like servers virtualized and other network components virtualized, now we’re seeing this NFV idea. The idea of taking functions that are key to the network, like a router or a firewall, and virtualizing those functions. Did I get that right? Is that a clear restatement of what NFV is?
David: Yes. Where SDN takes that control plane and the forwarding plane from the network perspective, NFV takes that same approach with regards to functions that are going on. Network address translations, some firewalling, caching and things like that that are going on in machines in the network–and actually pull that intelligence back out to more of a common controller. It’s more virtualized. It’s going to be able to drive more efficiencies throughout the network.
Andrew: Interesting. What is it that a customer is buying today? When they’re buying a network from Level 3, are they buying an SDN network or are they buying an MPLS or VPLS network that has SDN at its core? How does that typically work?
David: Yeah, yeah. You’re not buying actually an SDN network. You’re buying a connectivity to a service that’s got that capability built into it. So from our perspective, we employ SDN through a Layer 2 network that allows customers to “ratchet up” the bandwidth as they need it. An example is: they stand up a large pipe into a data center, and they are able to add remote sites more readily because they can ratchet the data center pipe up with a click of a mouse. A lot quicker than needing to add a new kind of tier in bandwidth each time they want to add services. Then also, there’s some advantages with regards to using data for connectivity between–let’s call it a backup scenario. I don’t need to run a backup scenario all day long. I need to run it for three hours at a certain time of night. I can pre-program that into the network. Click of the mouse–the network is ratcheted up and I’m able to use more bandwidth through that service. More dynamic.
Andrew: Yeah. Sounds like it. It seems like the trend is with the intelligence moving more and more to the network. We’re now able to do some very, very cool things around a network responding very, very quickly to changing requirements, right?
David: Absolutely.
Andrew: A very fluid environment.
David: To those applications, absolutely. Yeah.
Andrew: Yep. Very cool. Fascinating stuff, man. I’m excited about what you guys are doing in this space and excited about where we’re going with wide area networks. My goodness–it’s a fun, fun future to think about. Hey, David, thanks for jumping in.
David: Thank you.
Andrew: Good deal. Guys, that’s David Montgomery. He’s the Director of Sales Engineering for Level 3, one of our largest and go-to suppliers for advanced networks. Make sure you get smarter about what they’re doing and how the network and cloud are really starting to converge. It’s a really important conversation to be having with your client. You can get real smart about Level 3 strategy in the learning center here for Level 3. Make sure you go there. Go deep. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and involve their smart guys to help you close more deals in the cloud. Good selling.