Opportunities and Research Challenges of Hybrid Software Defined Networks

S. Vissicchio, L. Vanbever, O. Bonaventure
Appears in: 
CCR April 2014

Software Defined Networking (SDN) promises to ease design, operation and management of communication networks. However, SDN comes with its own set of challenges, including incremental deployability, robustness, and scalability. Those challenges make a full SDN deployment difficult in the short-term and possibly inconvenient in the longer-term. In this paper, we explore hybrid SDN models that combine SDN with a more traditional networking approach based on distributed protocols. We show a number of use cases in which hybrid models can mitigate the respective limitations of traditional and SDN approaches, providing incentives to (partially) transition to SDN. Further, we expose the qualitatively diverse tradeoffs that are naturally achieved in hybrid models, making them convenient for different transition strategies and long-term network designs. For those reasons, we argue that hybrid SDN architectures deserve more attention from the scientific community.