An In-Depth Look at Software-Defined Networking

Open SDN and OpenFlow

Before everyone jumped on the software-defined networking bandwagon, an early central standard emerged called OpenFlow. OpenFlow is an open-source communications protocol that does that fundamental job of separating control and data planes from one another.

In OpenFlow design, network controllers route traffic across a network. Part of this is done by making the OS layer 3 or network layer more versatile.

OpenFlow was pioneered in 2011 and maintained by the Open Networking Foundation.

One of the most important things to know about OpenFlow is that for a while, it was the only way to really practically pursue software-defined networking. However, as industry experts point out, today there are many vendor-specific protocols. The idea is that big tech companies wanted to be able to offer software-defined networking themselves – so they built their own ways to offer it. They wanted to compete with the idea that companies would move toward the open-source solution and away from their traditional products.

As for the benefits of OpenFlow, experts have identified several reasons for the popularity of OpenFlow, including a greater ability to swiftly introduce new network features and services, simple provisioning and optimized performance.

As an example of tech companies implementing OpenFlow, in response to the growth of OpenFlow adoption, Cisco came out with “Cisco OpenFlow” modeling using OpenFlow-enabled switches. Now, the SDN world is progressing “past OpenFlow” as new opportunities emerge, which we will talk about a little later.


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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.