Getting Started With SDN


Over the past few months I’ve started noticing more and more concern about software defined networking and its effect on networking careers. My personal belief is that those of us choosing a career in technology must realize that we chose a path of continual change. Software Defined Networking, or SDN, is part of this process of change and will certainly have an impact on networking.

The concern most seem to have is the elimination of networking jobs. I believe that we will be able to do more with less, but I still suspect there will be plenty of work for well qualified individuals. An example I usually give revolves around virtualization in the server space. Although this has drastically increased the server to administrator ratio, good server administrators are still in demand.

This article outlines a few of the resources I’ve stumbled on that may help individuals get started with software defined networking. Getting ahead of the curve, allows us to educate ourselves and prepare for coming changes.When trying to gain familiarity with SDN, the first recommendation I would make is to become familiar with Mininet. This is an Open Source virtual network project that includes components to emulate OpenFlow switches, virtual hosts and reference controllers. Mininet is available as a package for most Linux distributions. Additionally, it can also be downloaded as a Virtual Box VM. The image can easily be converted to VMWare by using the “ovftool” from the VMWare Website. The Mininet website also has a walk-through that is useful to those who need a step by step guide to getting started with the components.

Mininet VM Image and Walk-through

While working through some of the items in the Mininet walk-through, it is likely that additional examples might be helpful. The book that I recommend to expand on the Mininet configuration and concepts is Software Defined Networking With Openflow. This book covers several OpenFlow controllers and the Mininet virtual switch. One particularly interesting controller is the Python controller that is known as POX. Since Python doesn’t have to be compiled, curious engineers can easily tweak and relaunch POX.

Another very popular OpenFlow controller is the OpenDaylight Project. This can easily be installed directly in the Minint VM.

Since OpenFlow is such a large part of SDN, it also makes sense to look at some of the drivers and standard documents around the protocol.

The last recommendation I would make is to follow the wealth of information that is being regularly added to the PacketPushers Blog.

I fully agree with those who believe that SDN will change things. I just don’t think we should fear that change. By educating ourselves and following market trends, we can alleviate fears and better prepare ourselves for the networks of the future.

Please share your favorite SDN resources by commenting below.

About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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4 Responses to Getting Started With SDN

  1. One additional resource that I recommend is Brent Salisbury’s blog. Brent is well in the know with all things SDN and writes regularly about related topics.

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