Sep 03 2019

5 Tips for Laying an SDN Foundation

Follow these tips to enhance network flexibility and reduce overall implementation costs.

Software-defined networking may simplify network management, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement.

“SDN isn’t something where you can just click on a switch and it works,” Proliance Surgeons CIO Curt Kwak tells HealthTech. “It requires a lot of planning and a lot of foresight, because any mistake you make could actually impact your applications at the operational level.”

Here’s how to prepare:

1. Study Your Network

To make the most of SDN, you can’t just estimate network use. “Understand your traffic patterns, who and what is connected to the network, what kind of apps are being used, and what your baselines are for utilization,” says Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst for ZK Research

MORE FROM HEALTHTECH: Learn how SD-WAN helps healthcare organizations improve network reliability.

2. Educate Your Team

With SDN, “there’s definitely a learning curve in going from being a command-line jockey, who’s used to logging in to physical switches, to suddenly clicking on things in a graphical use interface,” says Kevin Rothstein, a network engineer at Sharp HealthCare. Training and support are crucial

3. Have a Segmentation Strategy

Most organizations know they’ll need a guest network and another segment for clinical data. But you’ll need to go deeper. For instance, will you put X-rays and MRI images onto a single segment? “A lot of it has to do with taking regulatory compliance mandates and converting that into security policies,” Kerravala says.


4. Ask for Help

Guidance from CDW’s IT Professional Services was a big factor in a successful SDN rollout for Proliance. “We had hands-on support from experts, which helped us keep moving forward and learn,” says Kwak.

5. Start Small

Pick a manageable case for applying SDN and go for an easy win. “I call it going for a chip shot, rather than the moon shot, so it’s not so daunting,” says Kerravala. “By focusing on an area where there’s a pain point, you can understand how it works first and then expand from there.”

Wenjie Dong/Getty Images

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