Enterprise Networking Week in Review: SDN, Network Performance, SLAs, Video in the Workplace, and the APOLAN

Jude ChaoAs predictably as the tide, another Friday has rolled around. Before you pack it in for the week, though, take a few minutes to make sure you haven’t missed anything in this week’s enterprise networking coverage.

Software Defined Networking: What Is It Good For?

By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of SDN. But in practical terms, what can it offer enterprises? Well, it can improve security, according to network and application visibility and monitoring vendor Net Optics. Net Optics’ Security-Centric SDN solution marries an SDN controller to Network Packet Broker technology to harness the agility and orchestrability of the software-defined network for enhanced defense. Net Optics president and CEO Bob Shaw told me about the Security-Centric SDN approach.

Agility is a cornerstone of the application-defined network concept, in which applications shape the network to suit their needs. Sounds great, but what happens when applications start competing for resources, or, worse, inadvertently misconfigure the network? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) are working on VeriFlow, a potential solution to the conundrum. I spoke to Brighten Godfrey, VeriFlow researcher, about what VeriFlow does, and how.

Speaking of agility, Chinese networking vendor Huawei this week announced its new S12700 “Agile Switch.” Huawei claims that the switch offers the flexibility and programmability a modern network deployment needs, as Sean Michael Kerner reported.

In other SDN development news, OpenDaylight’s December release is fast approaching, with several projects set for release. One of those is Plexxi’s Affinity Metadata Service, which improves communications between applications and their network, allowing for higher-level orchestrability. Plexxi’s Michael Bushong, a sometime ENP contributor and commenter, sat down for a chat detailing Affinity Metadata Service and what’s next for Plexxi and SDN.

User Experience and Network Performance

SDN is an exciting concept, as are many others floating around the enterprise networking world. Ultimately, all these new technologies exist for one reason: to enhance user experience in a way that boosts productivity and, consequently, an enterprise’s bottom line. Art Cole reminds us all of this fact in this week’s Data Center blog post, in which he details technology that will soon offer a better user experience on enterprise networks than ever before.

Of course, you can’t improve your network performance and end users’ experience unless you have a handle on what problems your network’s having now. Among a plethora of network analysis and troubleshooting solutions, Fluke’s OptiView XG v10 network analysis tablet stands out. Is it worth its hefty price tag? Check out Frank Ohlhorst‘s review to find out.

Video in the Workplace

Employees expect a lot from enterprise networks these days, including video. Video is particularly important to young executives, according to the 2013 Cisco Global Young Executives’ Video Attitudes Survey, which Sean covered this week. Apparently, under-34s not only like, but expect high-quality video for their meetings, even internal meetings. Personally, I could live without video conferences, but that’s probably just me.

In any case, where there’s a need, there’s a vendor offering a way. UC vendor Polycom this week expanded its portfolio to better meet enterprise video demands. Polycom’s RealPresence Resource Manager 8.0 and the RealPresence Video DualManager 400 promise to improve video network management for both large and midsize enterprises, as Sean reported.

Bits and Bobs: Passive Optical LAN, BYOD, and SLA Tips

This week also saw the unveiling of the Association for Passive Optical LAN (APOLAN), a new networking industry group formed to evangelize the benefits of glass over copper in the enterprise. I spoke with two members of the APOLAN yesterday about why they believe businesses should switch to passive optical for their local area networks, and when is the best time to do so.

I also featured a recent BYOD infographic from our sister site eWeek. eWeek’s infographic delves into BYOD in the workplace. How many workers use personal devices for work purposes, and how many employers are actually equipped to deal with that? The answers are unnerving, to say the least.

And finally, what about the cloud? Many enterprises are outsourcing at least some of their needs these days. That means signing contracts and agreeing on SLAs with outside vendors. How can you make sure to get the most out of your SLA? Art lists ten networking items to consider the next time you negotiate for services from a cloud vendor.

Stick a fork in us: we’re done. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit Enterprise Networking Planet next week for more of the latest enterprise networking features, news, reviews, and how-tos!

Jude Chao is executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow her on Twitter @judechao

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