Logically Centralized? State Distribution Tradeoffs in Software Defined Networks

TitleLogically Centralized? State Distribution Tradeoffs in Software Defined Networks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLevin, D., Wundsam A., Heller B., Handigol N., & Feldmann A.
Other Numbers3341

Software Defined Networks (SDN) give network designers freedom to refactor the network control plane. One core benefit of SDN is that it enables the network control logic to be designed and operated on a global network view, as though it were a centralized application, rather than a distributed system – logically centralized. Regardless of this abstraction, control plane state and logic must inevitably be physically distributed to achieve responsiveness, reliability, and scalability goals. Consequently, we ask: “How does distributed SDN state impact the performance of a logically centralized control application?”

Motivated by this question, we characterize the state exchange points in a distributed SDN control plane and identify two key state distribution trade-offs. We simulate these exchange points in the context of an existing SDN load balancer application. We evaluate the impact of inconsistent global network view on load balancer performance and compare different state management approaches. Our results suggest that SDN control state inconsistency significantly degrades performance of logically centralized control applications agnostic to the underlying state distribution.


This work was partially funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Diesnst (DAAD) through a postdoctoral fellowship.

Bibliographic Notes

Proceedings of the Workshop on Hot Topics in Software Defined Networks (HotSDN '12) at ACM SIGCOMM 2012, Helsinki, Finland

Abbreviated Authors

D. Levin, A. Wundsam, B. Heller, N. Handigol, and A. Feldmann

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security

ICSI Publication Type

Article in conference proceedings