Things are changing fast in the data center. Finally, after what seems like decades of more of the same, we are seeing major innovation on a massive scale. Powered by the explosion of mobile computing, network services are struggling to keep up with the new demands of millions of broadband connected, always on devices. Network administrators are feeling the same squeeze that systems administrators are, and the solution looks like it will be higher levels of abstraction with Software Defined Networking.
Software Defined Networking (SDN) is difficult to explain, mainly because most of the parts that describe it are not quite built yet. At a 10,000 ft view, as I understand it, SDN describes a set of APIs for centrally managing network devices and being able to reconfigure them on the fly. The details of how this is accomplished are still up in the air, but now that the Linux Foundation has stepped in to create the OpenDaylight project, a standardized, hardware independent protocol and syntax may not be far behind.