Will SDN Replace Network Change and Configuration Management?

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

It is no secret that I am interested in network management. Every time I start working in a large network, I get frustrated with the lack of tools to see what is happening in the network at a system level. Seeing the volume and location of link errors, duplex mismatches, and other fundamental errors provides an understanding of the network’s level of maintenance.

Similarly, Network Change and Configuration Management (NCCM) provides information about the consistency of the configurations. Are configuration standards being maintained? Where are the exceptions to the standard configurations? If the configs are inconsistent, I know that we can expect more problems due to inconsistencies than if they were consistent. It also tells me how much manual configuration and troubleshooting effort are required to run the network. The main problem is that current networking configuration is done on a per-box basis

One of the benefits of SDN is a logically centralized control system. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the consistency problems will disappear, it does suggest that making things different will require more work than making them the same. I wrote a blog at nojitter.com back in September 2013 titled Will SDN Be the Future of Network Change Management? The switch to SDN will enable us to make significant forward progress in network management, especially in the area of change and configuration management. Instead of working with the configurations of individual boxes, we’ll be working with network configurations. The key will be to determine the  abstractions that enable us to work efficiently at a higher level. The details like duplex mismatch will be handled in a standard way within the SDN configuration and control system. At a higher level, I expect things like VLAN definitions to be replaced with SDN network slices, which will accomplish network traffic segregation.

SDN is giving us a chance to improve the way we manage and configure networks. And I think that’s pretty exciting.



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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.