A Survey and a Comparative Study on Software-Defined

A Survey and a Comparative Study on Software-Defined
International Research Journal of Computer Science (IRJCS)
Issue 08, Volume 3 (August 2016)
ISSN: 2393-9842
A Survey and a Comparative Study on Software-Defined
Afrah Salman Dawood*, Mohammed Najm Abdullah*
Department of Computer Engineering, University of Technology, Baghdad, Iraq
Abstract — Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a new networking paradigm in network technologies in which the
data plane and network plane are separated. This new technology began to be widely used in last few years and studies
started to increase on this new technology. The communication scheme of the network consists mainly of the
controller and programmable OpenFlow switches. The centralized controller can be considered as the brain of the
network which is basically responsible on determining the path of the incoming packet by informing the switches to
route that packet in the right direction. In this paper, a complete definition and description have been shown and a
survey study on the SDN has been presented based on different types of studies have been already made historically.
An overview on the simulators used to implement these networks has also been shown.
Keywords— Software-Defined Networking (SDN), programmable network, data plane, control plane, OpenFlow
switches, controller, SDN simulators.
Computer networks are implemented for widely different purposes ranging from small office connectivity to very large
organizations distributed around the world. The networks are the basic links for organizations to be connected and they
could be completely on-premises, cloud-based, or a hybrid of both [17]. These networks are built from a large number of
different networking devices including routers, switches, middle-boxes and PCs [3]. There are numerous architectures of
the networks. The old fashions of networks rely on the distribution of control and transport network protocols among
routers and switches [8]..
Fig. 1 General Comparison between Traditional Networks and Software-Defined Networks
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Figure 1 shows a comparative view between traditional networks and software-defined networks. The distribution of
control and data plane has its own advantages and disadvantages. This section will focus on the disadvantages and
limitations that led to the movement from distributed control to the centralized control.
The basic limitation of the traditional IP networks is the complexity and difficulty of the management and configuration
distributed around almost all devices (i.e. the configuration manual must be implemented throughout all network devices)
where the designers must identify the structure and the source code of the software running on switches so it cannot be
easily modified; this phenomenon is known as network (or internet) ossification [1] and [9]. Another disadvantage is the
coupling of the data plane and the control plane inside the networking devices. There are also the problem of the internet
ossification where the internet has become very difficult to blossom in both the physical infrastructure and the protocols
and performance [3]. Generally, when the routing device receives the packet, it uses a set of rules contained in its
firmware to decide the routing path and the destination device for the received packet [6]. In recent years, an attempts to
overcome these problems have been made through the use of a new paradigm in networking architectures by using the
Software-Defined Networking (SDN). There are many definitions of SDN, the most common one is that software
applications and SDN controllers control networks instead of traditional network management consoles and commands
that are difficult to be managed and controlled [17]. This means that the application plane, control (i.e. network) plane
and the data plane will be decoupled by directly programming and the interface will be opened between the controller and
the forwarding element for communication [1], [2], [4], [14] [8], [18], [16] and [5]. Recently, SDN became a popular new
trend in both the academic and industrial fields [2]. The basic architecture of software-defined networking can be viewed
in Figure 2.
Fig. 2 The basic working of the Software-Defined Networking
In this section an overview on the SDN including background, definition, benefits and challenges will be described.
SDN has been presented as a solution to the significant limitations of the traditional networks which includes complexity,
inconsistent policies and inability to scale. During the early appearance of the SDN on the technological field, there were
stern ideas about the design and architecture of the SDN. The SDN focuses on being a platform capable of hosting a
plentiful of IT workflow automation solutions that derive customers to their aim [17]. The SDN is a brand-new
technology for networks; it is growing very fact due to its benefits, yet it has some challenges need to be solved for better
performance [3].
While we are moving from traditional networks to programmed networks, many definitions have been occurred to
describe SDN according to different applications and implementations. Mainly, SDN means the automatic and dynamic
control and management for large number of network devices, services, traffic paths, etc.
According to [8], there are four distinct definitions which are:
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ISSN: 2393-9842
1) The most general definition is that the software-defined network is a networking scheme that discriminates the control
plane form the forwarding plane [16] and this will lead to a simple (packet) forwarding elements [8].
2) The forwarding decisions are flow based instead of destination based [8], like that in traditional networks where the
packet is forwarded hop-by-hop based on the destination IP address in its header field. The controller in SDN is
responsible for deciding the path that the packet should follow to attain its destination.
3) The external controller (or a network OS with applications) is the brain of the SDN where it is liable on the control
logic. The NOS is a key software element of the SDN network. It controls the network infrastructure components and
network data flows. The OS of the SDN network determines features like performance, scalability and reliability.
4) SDN is a dynamically programmable network through software applications running on the external controller [8].
The network programmability is made possible through the decoupling approach, where Active Networking (AN) and
Open Signaling (OpenSig) are the main approaches [1].
In traditional networks, each switching element is responsible on packet forwarding logic based on rules specified in its
own local software [1]. This scheme describes the decentralization of the control plane. On the other hand, the packet
forwarding logic is accomplished in a centralized manner where the SDN controller is responsible for the decision
making process of the path selection.
This subsection describes the types of benefits provided by SDN to organizations [17]:
1) SDN Automation Leads to Business Agility: The lightness and punctuality of the business objectives are achieved by
greater degrees of infrastructure automation [17].
2) A New Approach to Network Policy: Business requirements is not aware in how the network is achieved, however, the
way of application working is essentially relative to high-level business policies and objectives [17].
3) SDN provides better techniques for centralized dynamic management and control configurations for an improved
automation, scalability and consistency [17] [18].
4) SDN provides adaptive resource management and control for simplifying the industrial and research communities
Several research trends in SDN have been implemented based on various aspects. Most researches focus on the layered
taxonomy as those in [2] [3] [8] etc. In this section, an analytical survey and a comparative study will be produced based
on the software and hardware trends. Software-Defined Networking is a radical new technology for network
implementation and can be implemented according to various concepts. Figure 3 shows an overview of the classification
of the basic reviewed research trends based on the proposed taxonomy.
The core of the SDN network, the programmable switch, can conduct as a router, switch, firewall, load balancer, etc.
depending on polices of the controller application [8], though researches have been widely varied. Table I shows a
comparative study related to the classification mentioned earlier in Figure 1. Resource management, energy consumption,
storage, security, programming and interfacing, probability of error and several other factors are very important issues for
the performance evaluation in almost all networks, however organization errands and strategy particulars are additionally
critical components in SDN systems since the systems develop in size steadily and turn out to be substantially more
unpredictable to oversee and keep up [17]. As for software-defined networking, the process of managing resources still a
difficult issue since most researches focuses on the architecture or on implementing the OpenFlow protocol on the
programmable switches. In the rest of the section we will describe factors that should be considered when designing such
A. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Resource management is the way toward utilizing organization's assets as a part of the
most effective way imaginable. These assets incorporate substantial assets, monetary assets and work assets, for example,
HR. Asset administration has thoughts, for example, ensuring that one has enough physical or programming assets for the
one's organizations. The heterogeneous nature of the applications, advances and equipment that today's systems need to
bolster has made the administration of such frameworks a complex task [43]. The Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
worldview has risen as a promising answer for lessen this many-sided quality through the production of a brought
together control plane free of particular vendor equipment. However, planning a SDN-based answer for system asset
administration raises a few difficulties as it ought to display adaptability as in [6] [15] [11] and [35] scalability as in [11]
[15] [25] [27] [28] and [35], and flexibility as in [6] [7] [11] [15] [27] [28]. According to table I, network resource
management can be described best in several researches such as [6] where the chairmen have a remote control over the
system and can change the system attributes, for example, administrations and availability taking into account the
workload designs.
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Fig. 3 SND Research Trends
B. ENERGY CONSUMPTION: Energy consumption [7] [11] [31] [38] is very critical issue to be considered while
designing both traditional networks and Software-Defined Networks. To save energy, it is axiomatic to switch off the
hardware to lessen traffic load; and since traditional networks combine the data plane and the control plane in the same
devices then traffic load can’t be evaluated correctly as they are running insensible of the traffic extent. Several energyefficient algorithms have been proposed and implied in most cases to adapt resource usage [45] and some SDN researches
focused basically on this concept like that in [44] where the outcomes demonstrated a recovery of up to 45% of the
vitality utilization at evening time. Another example on energy consumption is the design explained in [45] of new
energy-aware protocols and their deployment in SDNs. Specifically, both algorithmic and functional challenges
considering diverse sorts of systems including spine, data center, framework based remote access (Cellular/Wi-Fi) or
venture systems has been addressed.
C. STORAGE: Storage and memory units [7] [23] [37] [38] are very important issues especially in switches because they
limit the number of flow entries allowed on switches. Some researchers focus on controlling the available memory on the
network such as that in [46] where many switch/hardware challenges including storage have been discussed. The future
managers still need to guarantee the greatest flow table size will fit their requirements. This hardware limitation still
needs to be addressed and improved.
D. SECURITY: System Security is the way toward taking physical and programming precaution measures to shield the
fundamental systems administration foundation from unapproved access, abuse, glitch, change, obliteration, or
disgraceful revelation, in this manner making a protected stage for PCs, clients and projects to play out their allowed
basic capacities inside a safe domain [47]. Over long time security made big effects on network design and with moving
towards Software-Defined Networks it still very important issue. The benefits of SDN offers several new threats that need
to be handled [46]. These threats include forged or faked traffic flows [5] [6] [9] [11] [15] [31] [33] susceptibilities in
switches [4], [15], attacks on control plane communications [6] [11] [15] susceptibilities in controllers [4] [6] [15] [28]
controller and application trust [6] [15] [31] [36] susceptibilities in administrative stations [5] [15] lack of forensics and
remediation [15] and several others.
E. PROGRAMMING AND INTERFACING: SDN/OpenFlow programming languages have been studied in some projects [5]
[6] [7] [10] [12], etc. as shown table I. The possibility of "programmable systems" has been proposed as an approach to
encourage system development [3]. Different programming languages and interfacing are the most widely researched
trends in these new technologies as SDN means that networks are programmed.
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F. Programmable networking efforts [3] have been evolved during time and they include open signaling, active
networking, DCAN, 4D project, NETTCONF and ethane. Interfacing in Software-Defined Networks is basically divided
into southbound API, northbound API and SDN controller [11].
G. PROBABILITY OF ERROR: It is the expectation value of the bit error ration. It is up to the OpenFlow protocol to dole
out communicate to the focal controller for flow setup. Along these lines, the low-level switches need to communicate
with the controller as often as possible to acquire instructions on the most proficient method to handle approaching
packets, thus there is a possibility of errors [6]. Many methods have been discussed to enhance the performance of the
controller to avoid errors. Not too many researches focus on the point of the probability of error; the meaning of this point
almost found in [22] [23] [24] [35].
H. POLICY AND PRIVACY SPECIFICATION: Policies [6] [11] [12] [23] [24] [28] [34] [36] are the set of rules that directs
the work flow of the network. Each policy is a set of conditions and a set of corresponding actions [5]. Policies are
classified as static or dynamic according to the set of actions been fixed or dynamic. Dynamic updates are described in [5]
[7] [10] and several others. Too many studies found on privacy and policy specifications as shown in table I; for example,
in [3], a description on reactive and proactive policies has been discussed with different examples.
I. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION: Performance evaluation depends on several metrics and almost every network must be
evaluated according to a set of specified metrics. These metrics are sensitive to the changes of network performance and
efficiency of the design. With SDN, performance evaluation takes into account metrics like packet throughput [21] [32]
forwarding probability [22] [30] Message Delivery Ratio (MDR) [29] rule activation time [30] control traffic overhead
[30] and several other metrics.
J. IMPLEMENTING APPLICATIONS USING SDN: All traditional networks and Software-Defined networks are useless
without using them in useful applications. SDN has applications in a wide assortment of networked environments [3] by
decoupling the data plane from the control plane. Several researches showed how to implement different applications
environments like data centers, enterprise networks, etc. using this brand new networking technology, referring to table I.
More information can be found in [7] [9] [10] [11] [13] and several other researches.
Implementing Applications
using SDN
Performance Evaluation
Policy and privacy
Probability of Error
Programming and Interfacing
Energy Consumption
Resource Management and
Proposed Objectives and Solutions
Hardware Trends
Yan Luo, et al [21]
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The design options have been described and
experiment results have been reported show
that a 20% reduction on packet delay and the
comparable packet forwarding throughput
compared to conventional designs.
B. Rais, et al [29]
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Through broad reenactments, advantages of
MeDeHa++ have been illustrated, particularly
as far as the amplified scope it gives and also
its capacity to adapt to discretionarily
enduring network disturbances. Another vital
commitment of this work is to send and
assess message conveyance structure on a
genuine system testbed and additionally lead
tests in "half and half" situations running
somewhat on recreation and mostly on
genuine hubs.
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Software Trends
Sushant Jain, et al [35]
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P. Dely, et al [30]
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M. Mendonca, et al
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Pat Bosshart, et al [38]
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White Paper [42]
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Nishtha, et al [4]
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Celio Trois, et al [5]
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Marcelo R.
Nascimento, et al [27]
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Yuefeng Wang,
Ibrahim Matta [12]
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Technical white paper
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ISSN: 2393-9842
The design, implementation, and evaluation
of B4, a private WAN connecting Google’s
data centers across the planet, have been
presented. The objective function of the
proposed system is to deliver max-min fair
allocation to applications.
A simple solution has been implemented to
solve the issue of customer portability in a
WMN which handles the quick movement of
customer locations between Mesh APs and
the collaboration with re-steering without the
requirement for burrowing.
In this paper, spurred by the vision that future
online worlds will include infrastructure–
based and infrastructure–less systems, the
creators investigate the utilization of the
worldview in these so–called "heterogeneous"
arranged situations.
The solid outline illustrates, in spite of
worries inside the group, that adaptable
OpenFlow equipment switch executions are
achievable at no extra cost or power.
This white paper investigates SDN and NFV
with an accentuation on the advantages, use
cases and difficulties that must be overcome
to push ahead.
This paper concentrates on a large portion of
the issues that exists in SDNs and OpenFlow
This paper introduces a pragmatic view on
up-to-dated OpenFlow-based SDN languages.
The methodology depends on a scientific
categorization including every single
noticeable element found in those dialects.
Cases are talked about to show the crucial
deliberations. In conclusion, all assembled
data is condensed, talking about the principle
RouteFlow methodology was proposed, a
novel point to in the configuration space of
product directing arrangements with broad
usage towards virtual switches and IP
systems as an administration.
General regular architecture for SDN system
and configuration prerequisites of the
administration layer that is at the center of the
design have been recognized. The open issues
and shortcoming of existing SDN
administration layers have likewise been
This white paper gives a review of
administration and how HP is utilizing SDN
to convey the Virtual Application Networks
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Both Trends
Qiao Yan, et al [15]
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Nick McKeown, et
al [20]
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M. Jarschel, et al
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N. Foster, et al [34]
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Bruno Astuto A.
Nunes, et al [3]
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Fei Hu, et al [6]
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Wenfeng Xia, et al
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Adrian Lara, et al [9]
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The Open SDN
Architecture [37]
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Raj Jain and
Subharthi Paul [10]
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T. Koponen, et al
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ISSN: 2393-9842
New patterns and attributes of DDoS attacks
on SDN and how to make full utilization of
SDN's focal points to crush DDoS attacks in
distributed computing situations, how to keep
SDN itself from turning into a casualty of
DDoS attacks and available solutions have
been examined.
The objective is to permit analysts to assess
their thoughts in true activity setting, support
sending of OpenFlow in proposed vast scale
testbeds like GENI as a helpful grounds part.
This paper was the initial move towards
OpenFlow versatility and execution. Essential
model was inferred for sending velocity and
blocking likelihood of an OpenFlow switch
joined with an OpenFlow controller and
accepting it utilizing a reproduction.
The authors outlined a straightforward and
instinctive reflections to program to the three
principle phases of system administration:
observing system activity, indicating and
forming parcel sending approaches, and
redesigning strategies reliably.
A notable point of view of programmable
systems was given. At that point the SDN
architecture and the OpenFlow standard were
This overview can help both industry and the
development individuals to comprehend the
most recent advancement of SDN/OpenFlow
plans. Some critical unsolved examination
issues have likewise been pointed in this
energizing field.
This paper studies most recent advancements
in this dynamic exploration territory of SDN
and its design.
A study has been given about OpenFlow and
difficulties confronting the expansive scale
arrangement of OpenFlow-based systems and
no usage gave.
This white paper provides a study about Big
Switch Networks Open SDN Suite
architecture that provides unmatched network
agility, choice in network hardware, and
optimized network operations.
The vision is to plan another session-layer
reflection called OpenADN that permits
ASPs to express and authorize application
activity administration approaches and
application conveyance requirements at the
granularity of use messages and parcels.
Onix was presented to address the control
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and Y. Ganjali.
Hyperflow [24]
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Christian Esteve
Rothenberg, et
al [28]
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Daniel F.
Macedo, et al
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A. Detti, et al
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white paper [33]
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Soheil Hassas
Yeganeh and
Yashar Ganjali.
Kandoo [25]
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Bob Lantz, et al
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Preparatory assessment demonstrates that,
accepting adequate control data transmission,
to bind the window of irregularity among
controllers by a variable of the deferral
between the most remote controllers, the
system changes must happen at a rate lower
than 1000 occasions for every second over
the system.
A controller-driven hybrid administration
model and present the configuration of the
RFCP along the model usage of an allinclusive unique BGP steering administration
were proposed in this paper.
The authors endorse the convergence of the
(SDN, SDR and virtualization) technologies.
They portray programmable systems, where
programmable gadgets execute particular
code, and the system is isolated into three
administration planes. They close with last
contemplations, open issues and future
The authors proposed a solution to integrate
SDN functionality in a Wireless Mesh, trying
to face the reliability concerns related to this
environment. The proposed wmSDN
This white paper presents the Cisco
perspective on SDN network programming
and several Cisco products have OpenFlowcapable images available.
Kandoo methodology was stretched out to
bolster new classifications of control
applications that are not as a matter of course
neighborhood but rather that have a
constrained extension.
Mininet-based contextual analyses winnowed
from more than 100 clients at 18
organizations, who have created SDN.
As there are several simulation programs that support traditional networks, software-defined networks came up with
several simulators (or emulators) to support different architectures implemented with SDN. Basically, there two basic
simulators available for such networks which are NS3 and Mininet. Both Mininet and NS3 are equally good SDN
simulators available currently for implementation. While the usage varies widely and the choices are to be made
according to requirements. If OpenFlow is the most significant part of the work then it is better to use Mininet. Otherwise
if checking large network behavior is as important as OpenFlow, go for NS3. Mininet can be considered far easier than
NS3 but NS3 gives more control.
A. NS3 [39]: it supports OpenFlow switches which are restricted to be simulation only. OpenFlow switches are
configurable via the OpenFlow API, and also have an MPLS extension for quality-of-service and service-level-agreement
support. By extending these capabilities to ns-3 for a simulated OpenFlow switch that is both configurable and can use
the MPLS extension, NS3 simulations can accurately simulate many different switches.
B. MININET [40]: Network emulation software that allows you to launch a virtual network with switches, hosts and an
SDN controller all with a single command. Mininet supports research, development, learning, prototyping, testing,
debugging, and any other tasks that could benefit from having a complete experimental network on a laptop or other PC.
Mininet creates a realistic virtual network, running real kernel, switch and application code, on a single machine (VM,
cloud or native), in seconds, with a single command. Some of characteristics that guide the creation of Mininet are
flexibility, applicability, interactivity, scalability, realistic, and share-able prototypes with other collaborators [41].
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C. CHALLENGES WITH MENTIONED SIMULATORS: Basically, in NS3 we have an OpenFlow switch model that does not
speak the actual switch - controller protocol, but instead, it talks to a sole object that implements the controller behavior.
There have been discussions around fixing this so that one may run a controller inside a VM, connect the VM to an NS3
node using a tap-bridge device, and then run NS3 in emulation mode. This would allow switching the controller logic
from simulation to emulation and then to actual ordeal. In Mininet-based systems, the CPU or data transfer capacity
accessible on a solitary server can't (presently) be surpass. Non-Linux-compatible OpenFlow switches or applications
likewise can't (at present) be run; in any case, this has not been a noteworthy issue by and by.
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