Title: SDN and OpenFlow for Beginners with Hands-on Labs
Authors: Vivek Tiwari
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Published: 4th September 2013
Edition: 1st Edition
Reviewer: Arani Mukherjee
Software Defined Network, or SDN, as a concept, is quite new in the networking world (at least for me). What it essentially means is that through SDN, management and control of a network is decoupled from a strict hardware architecture and handed over to a software application.
This new eBook, from author Vivek Tiwari, is a technical overview of SDN, its meaning, concepts, working principle and, finally, a glimpse of its future.
In a broad sense, this book is a brief glimpse of the author's journey to becoming familiarised with SDN, its impact and its future.
As well as imparting knowledge, it helps us avoid hours of online searches by providing a consolidated approach towards concepts and technology, and a thorough understanding of SDN via hands on experience through labs.
I had initial doubts about reading an eBook. I am old school when it comes to books. I need the reassuring feel of the weight in my hands, the uninhibited freedom of moving through the pages, but since I have read a few titles by the same author, I thought I should give this eBook a chance.
The book consists of two parts, Part 1 deals with the theory and concepts, Part 2 deals with the hands on experience of SDN.
Part 1 - The Theory
Lets start with what we encounter in part 1.
The obvious approach of core concept explanation precedes critical analysis of this new trend. We come across the history lesson followed by a quick overview of the most important terms that are essential to grasp the concepts of SDN.
Readers should not be dissuaded by the number of chapters (23 in total), as I observed later that every chapter included is essential.
Chapters 1 to 4 set the foundation of SDN and then open up the discussion for Openflow. As explained by the author, Openflow is the protocol that intertwines with the architecture which is SDN.
Chapters 6 and 7 go though the concepts of Openflow and demonstrate its capabilities. This is followed by a brief synopsis of the different versions of this new protocol.
Once Openflow has been dealt with, the author starts making a case for SDN by extolling its advantages. Even though the chapter on this topic is quite small, each point discussed under this banner is quite concise and relevant. Individually each reason stated makes its own case depending on the nature of SDN deployment.
There are several scenarios explained in subsequent chapters where SDN can be deployed. These include infrastructures like enterprise networks, service provider, wan and datacentres.
What follows the case studies is quite interesting. By now the reader must be intrigued thinking of the future of all network hardware providers, once the network itself can be virtualised. The author provides the involvement of salient players in the network hardware market, e.g. Cisco, juniper etc. This discussion also includes key network users like Google and Facebook, users for whom the network is regarded as the main computing platform.
The author then opens up the field for a very candid and interesting topic. This is where he weighs out the feasibility of SDN itself, while performing a critical analysis. He tries to prove or disprove whether it is hype or the imminent future.
The future is then discussed in chapter 16. This is of course the author’s predictions. However, after reading it, I felt more in agreement with it than against it. I have a strong feeling that the author has made a valid point. The outcome of SDN and the future of network are intertwined and fundamentally inseparable.
Part 2 - Hands-on Experience with Labs
The second part, as mentioned earlier, is all about the hands on experience of SDN. The author lists the requirements before the SDN theory can be put to action. All of this is discussed in chapter 17. Then from chapter 18 to chapter 23 we not only get a ringside view of SDN in action, but also indulge in being part of the excitement of practising SDN as well.
As is customary the concluding section of the book contains appendices, providing more support information about SDN, related softwares, projects etc., which only enhance the understanding of SDN.
After reading the book and being enlightened about SDN, I must say I am more than intrigued about this new concept. I will be watching the progress of it very closely and, who knows, I might end up jumping onto the SDN bandwagon very soon. It would be a folly not to do so. I presume key stakeholders in network based institutions and vendors are already getting involved to a great depth.
This book certainly succeeds in arousing a great amount of interest in not just SDN but how this is probably going the shape the future of the network as a whole. I would recommend this book to all CTO and CEOs who are looking to move with the times and embrace technology. SDN is here to stay, and this book is a very good platform to start getting acclimatised with it. The book is a good initiation of SDN, which might, or should I say will definitely, end up being a game changer in our future.