Southbound vs. Northbound SDN: What are the differences?

How are Northbound SDN protocols still relevant?

Last October, we looked at the differences between Northbound and Southbound SDN controls. While both of these are important, we argued then that the Southbound side was well enough evolved and it was time to turn serious attention to the Northbound controls which held the future of SDN development. In this post, we'll take a look at the way this applies to networking today, and how each of these spheres influences network users.

First, we should recap what these terms mean. "Southbound" and "Northbound" reference different functions and their roles in facilitating processes. They can be defined by which components they interact with: The Southbound label applies to functions that work with physical and virtual network nodes, while Northbound indicates work with business or operations support systems (BSS/OSS). As we said then, Northbound helps with real-time actions and can help Telecoms move from cost savings to greater productization and monetization as a company moves to a new stack.

This is even more critical now because of the importance of open source software and environments. Northbound interfaces are compatible with both proprietary and open stacks, freeing up users to embrace the new options with a flexible range of APIs.

"This is critical because of the importance of open source software and environments."

Another important factor  is how modular are the OSS or BSS. Northbound SDN interfaces are also more programmable, as this article in Semiconductor Engineering asserted. That piece's author, Ernest Worthman, said that advances in sophisticated SDN controller structure will eventually lead to better prioritization, including important functions like security.

CloudSmartz still urges companies to look "Northbound" for the future of SDN operations and profitability. By acting on these underserved interfaces, companies will be able to more efficiently support their network connections and achieve new streams of revenue.

Revolutionize your current setup by working with the latest SDN solutions for a freer approach to the latest challenges of the network. Things are still evolving, and only by staying ahead of the latest trends can businesses get true ROI from their activities.

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