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How can UC use SDN for IP-based communications?

While software-defined networking is still in its early stages, there are some SDN use cases for UC that can make managing applications and services on the network easier.

Unified communications (UC), and any IP-based voice communication, uses a session that sets up and disconnects...

calls via a higher level IP layer. Software-defined networking (SDN) removes the physical port-to-network requirement and allows virtual mapping of network resources through software.

In effect, these two systems work quite similarly with the exception of the length of the connection and the IP layer that supplies the connection. In order for UC to fully use SDN for IP-based communication, some network integration will need to occur beyond just selecting the network that a device will communicate over.  

SDN APIs allow developers to more tightly integrate various UC applications and services over the network. I don't know of any solution that is "ready for prime time" without some level of programming. That said, laptops and other end-user devices that use UC apps and services may reside on a software-defined network now, they just aren't integrated to the point where the soft device can automatically sense the right network to reside on.  

We are very early in the game in determining all SDN use cases and how UC can fully use SDN. Some vendors are significantly further down the SDN path than others. There are still problems with integration, standardization and, in general, one vendor playing well with another in the space.

But I truly believe that SDN is an amazing technology that will remove much of the difficulty and skill sets required to control networks. It also shows great promise in easing the burden of data centers, including power and cooling management requirements. So, to answer the question, I would say: stay tuned!

Do you have a question for Carrie Higbie or any of our other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

Next Steps

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This was last published in December 2015

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