Software-Defined Networking

What is Software Defined Networking (SDN)?

Software-defined Networking, or SDN for short, is a networking method that leverages software-based APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) or controllers to direct traffic on a network and establish communication with associated hardware.

It is in direct contrast to traditional networks that leverage hardware-based components such as routers and switches to control traffic on a network.

You can leverage software-defined networks to create and control virtual networks or traditional hardware using software. This type of network allows organizations to gain central control over the routing of data packets across their network, which is more efficient than using network virtualization.

Architecture of Software-Defined Networking

The architecture of software-defined networks consists of three distinct layers:

Application Layer

This is the top layer of the software-defined network architecture. It consists of all the network services and apps meant for end-users. These apps can communicate with the control layer of the architecture, which helps with network management.

Control Layer

This is the middle layer of the software-defined architecture, also known as the control plane. It consists of the centralized controller, which communicates with and manages the configuration of the infrastructure layer using defined protocols.

Infrastructure Layer

This is the bottom layer of the SDN architecture, consisting of virtual and physical devices such as switches, firewalls, and routers, which are responsible for forwarding network traffic.

Why is Software Defined Networking Important?

As a significant stepping stone over traditional, hardware-based networking, software-defined networks prove to be a crucial addition to enterprises:

Enhanced Control

A network comprises multiple hardware devices that may not all belong to the same vendor and thus require different programming and control approaches. Using software-defined networking, it is possible to centrally control all these devices using open standard controllers based on software.

It also enhances the flexibility for the network administrators to choose the networking equipment as SDN enables them to use a single protocol to communicate with all hardware.

Customizable Infrastructure

Network administrators have the power to centrally configure the services of an entire network, allocate virtual resources, and change the infrastructure using software-defined networks. This means that the administrators can optimize the data flow through the network more efficiently and give priority to applications that require high network availability to function properly.

Improved Security

Network administrators get better visibility into their software-defined networks. This enables a holistic and enhanced view of network vulnerabilities and threats to security. When coupled with smart devices and the Internet of Things, software-defined networks are more controllable and transparent as compared to traditional, hardware-based, static networks. SDNs allow administrators to demarcate high-security networks separately for sensitive devices.

Benefits of Software-Defined Networking

Software-defined networking provides several benefits to enterprises, which include enhanced control over the network and better security:


Software-defined networks enable dynamic load balancing of traffic loads on a network, making the setup more agile towards needs. It helps reduce the latency of the network and improve its efficiency.

Simplified Network Design

Software-defined networks eliminate the need for separate protocols to manage a range of devices hosted on a network. This greatly simplifies the overall network design, enabling centralized control and monitoring.

Modernized Telecommunications

Compared to traditional networking systems, the software-defined network is far more sophisticated and modern. It allows administrators to better use virtualized networks and virtual machines for network separation.