The future is software-defined networking

Guest Post by LANCOM Systems Founder Ralf Koenzen about the growing importance of software-defined-networking:

Ralf Koenzen – Founder and Managing Partner of LANCOM Systems

Ralf Koenzen – Founder and Managing Partner of LANCOM Systems

Anybody who follows developments here at LANCOM will know that, since 2014, we have intensively been working on the way networks will look in the future. There is a background to this effort: With the increasing digitalization of the economy and administration, the demands on network infrastructures become ever more complex. Even today there is a permanent need to include and manage new applications, devices and users in the network, and these networks constantly have to adapt to new requirements such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or the Internet of Things (IoT). Furthermore, administrators are facing growing pressure for their networks to be efficient, from their commissioning to their operating costs.

In view of these challenges, conventional network architectures are increasingly operating at their limits. While they remain viable for networks spanning only a small number of sites and running only a few applications, the complex infrastructures of today are becoming more and more difficult to manage, and setting them up is time consuming and prone to error. So wouldn’t it be wonderful to have networks that are installed, monitored and expanded fully automatically?

Automation in response to increasing complexity

This is the idea behind software-defined networking (SDN). While conventional architectures require the configuration of each individual network device, SDN provides the centralized, location-independent design, management, and monitoring of networks at the click of a mouse. In the best case, all of the network components (routers, gateways, switches, access points) are no longer configured individually and by hand, but by means of a central software instance. Once the requirements of the network have been described, they are automatically implemented as individual device configurations and rolled out. New requirements are applied at the click of a mouse. A paradigm shift par excellence.

This is the principle underlying the new LANCOM Management Cloud (LMC). It provides SDN for all LANCOM network components, and it does so with cutting-edge Cloud technology.

A look behind the scenes

Making this possible involved a significant amount of preparation. Over the past two years we have set up a completely new development team dedicated to the LMC. After all, the task was to take networks as we know them and to completely rethink them, while at the same time setting future standards in terms of the graphical user interface (GUI).

sdn_cloud_blogWe even had to rework our hardware portfolio. While a routine LCOS update is all it takes to get our routers, gateways and WLAN access points “Cloud-ready” (the requisite LCOS 10.0 is planned for release in early 2017), we had to go a step further with our switches. The firmware of the switches – the hardware still being are sourced externally –, has been under in-house development for a number of months now. This strategic decision means that the LMC is capable of managing our switches in all their complexity, including their full scope of features and the full depth of functionality. Ultimately, this gives us a unique position in the market.

SDN by LANCOM: The LANCOM Management Cloud

Throughout the LMC’s development, we focused on a consistent implementation of the philosophy behind software-defined networking across the entire LANCOM product range. We are set to achieve this with the upcoming LCOS 10.0 and our new switch OS. This allows entire infrastructures to be centrally and automatically commissioned and monitored by means of the LANCOM Management Cloud.

Screenshot LMCAt the same time it was vitally important for us to retain a core attribute that is so important to our customers, also with our adoption of cloud technologies—the trust in our solutions and the security they offer. This is why the LMC has been developed entirely in-house. What’s more, we offer our customers a variety of different deployment models; from the LMC in the Public Cloud hosted at a data center in Germany, to the Private Cloud, and even the self-hosted LMC for operation at the customer’s own data center.

An option, no obligation

We are firmly convinced that SDN is the future of network management. The economic and technological advantages are so great that SDN solutions are sure to prevail on the market in the long term. Nevertheless, we are not forcing anybody into the Cloud. We will of course continue to support our popular network tools as well.

We deliberately decided to make all our devices operable both inside and outside of the LANCOM Management Cloud. All of our customers can decide for themselves when—or if—they join us on the path towards SDN & the Cloud. Here, too, we are taking a different approach to many of our competitors, most of whom are pitching dedicated “Cloud-only” hardware and offering management solutions that only cater for parts of the network infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi or WAN.

If we have made you curious, I warmly invite you to have a look at the LANCOM website for more information or get in touch. Marketing kicks-off in early 2017.


About the Author:

Ralf Koenzen – Founder and Managing Partner

Ralf (born 1965) founded LANCOM Systems in May 2002.
He started his professional career in 1984 with the founding his first company. Eight years later in 1992, he joined ELSA AG in Aachen. The management buyout of the Communication Systems business unit from ELSA AG in 2002 laid the foundation stone for LANCOM Systems.

Since then, Ralf Koenzen stands for the success story of LANCOM Systems. His many years of experience and his expertise are instrumental in the strategic development and innovative & capabilities of the German network-technology manufacturer.

In 2014, Ralf Koenzen was a finalist in the „Entrepreneur of the Year“ award, gaining recognition as one of Germany’s most successful entrepreneurs. Ralf Koenzen has studied Computer Science at the University of Dortmund, Germany. He is married and has two children.

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