Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Tools

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Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a network architecture approach that separates the control plane from the data plane, allowing network administrators to centrally manage and control the network infrastructure through software.

Here are some popular SDN tools:

  1. OpenFlow
  2. OpenDaylight
  3. Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)
  4. VMware NSX
  5. Juniper Contrail
  6. HP Virtual Application Networks (VAN)
  7. Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP)
  8. ONOS (Open Network Operating System)
  9. Ryu
  10. Pica8 PICOS

1. OpenFlow:

OpenFlow is an open standard communication protocol used in SDN environments. It allows network controllers to communicate with switches and routers to control the flow of network traffic dynamically.

Key features:

  • Centralized Control: OpenFlow allows for centralized control of network devices, where a software-based controller makes decisions on how network traffic should be forwarded.
  • Flow-based Forwarding: OpenFlow uses flow-based forwarding, where network traffic is classified into flows based on specific criteria such as source/destination IP addresses, protocols, or port numbers. Each flow can have its own forwarding rules.
  • Flow Table: OpenFlow devices maintain a flow table that stores flow entries. Each entry consists of match fields (criteria to match incoming packets) and corresponding actions.

2. OpenDaylight:

OpenDaylight is an open-source SDN controller platform that provides a framework for building SDN applications. It offers a flexible and extensible architecture with various southbound and northbound interfaces to manage and control the network.

Key features:

  • Modular Architecture: OpenDaylight is built with a modular architecture that allows for flexibility and extensibility. It provides a set of core services and modules that can be extended with additional features and functionalities as needed.
  • SDN Controller: OpenDaylight serves as a central controller for managing and controlling the SDN infrastructure. It interacts with network devices through southbound interfaces (such as OpenFlow) and provides APIs for northbound applications and services.
  • Open APIs: OpenDaylight exposes a variety of open APIs, making it easy to integrate with different network devices, protocols, and applications. This enables interoperability and allows for seamless integration with other SDN components and tools.

3. Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI):

Cisco ACI is a comprehensive SDN solution that combines hardware and software to automate network provisioning, policy enforcement, and application deployment. It provides centralized management and control over the entire network infrastructure.

Key features:

  • Application-Centric Policy Model: ACI focuses on applications as the primary building blocks for network policy and management. It allows administrators to define policies based on application requirements rather than individual network devices.
  • Policy-Based Automation: ACI automates the provisioning and configuration of network resources based on predefined policies. Policies can be applied consistently across the entire infrastructure, reducing manual configuration and ensuring policy adherence.
  • Application Network Profiles: ACI utilizes application network profiles to capture the requirements and dependencies of applications. These profiles define how traffic flows, services, and security policies are applied to individual applications or application tiers.

4. VMware NSX:

VMware NSX is a software-defined networking and security platform that virtualizes network services and enables micro-segmentation of the network. It allows administrators to create, manage, and secure virtual networks using software-based policies.

Key features:

  • Network Virtualization: NSX enables the creation of virtual networks that are decoupled from the underlying physical network infrastructure. It allows for the virtualization of network components such as switches, routers, firewalls, and load balancers.
  • Micro-Segmentation: NSX provides granular security and micro-segmentation capabilities at the virtual machine (VM) level. It allows administrators to define and enforce security policies based on VM attributes, ensuring that each VM has its own unique security perimeter.
  • Distributed Firewalling: NSX includes a distributed firewall that is embedded within the hypervisor kernel. This allows for the enforcement of security policies at the virtualization layer, providing east-west traffic visibility and protection within the data center.

5. Juniper Contrail:

Juniper Contrail is an SDN platform that provides network virtualization and automation capabilities. It offers a centralized management system for orchestrating virtual networks, integrating with various virtualization technologies and cloud platforms.

Key features:

  • Network Virtualization: Contrail enables the creation of virtual networks that are decoupled from the underlying physical infrastructure, allowing for efficient resource utilization and network segmentation.
  • Overlay Networking: Contrail utilizes overlay technology to provide connectivity between virtualized network elements, enabling the creation of virtual overlays on top of the physical network infrastructure.
  • Multi-Cloud Networking: Contrail supports multi-cloud environments, providing consistent network policies and connectivity across private, public, and hybrid clouds.

6. HP Virtual Application Networks (VAN):

HP VAN is an SDN solution that provides network virtualization and automated provisioning of network services. It allows administrators to define and enforce policies across the network infrastructure, improving network agility and reducing operational complexity.

7. Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP):

Nuage Networks VSP is an SDN platform designed to provide network virtualization and policy-based automation. It enables the creation of virtual networks and the application of granular policies based on user, device, or application requirements.

Key features:

  • Network Virtualization: VSP enables the creation of virtual networks that are decoupled from the underlying physical infrastructure, allowing for efficient resource utilization and network segmentation.
  • Overlay Networking: VSP utilizes overlay technology, such as Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN), to provide connectivity between virtualized network elements. This allows for the creation of scalable and flexible virtual overlays on top of the physical network infrastructure.
  • Policy-Based Networking: VSP follows a policy-driven networking model, where network policies are defined and enforced based on the requirements of applications and workloads. This approach allows for dynamic and granular control over network behavior, ensuring optimal application performance and security.

8. ONOS (Open Network Operating System):

ONOS is an open-source SDN controller platform that offers scalability and high availability for large-scale SDN deployments. It provides a modular architecture and supports various southbound and northbound protocols.

Key features:

  • Centralized Network Control: ONOS provides a centralized controller that acts as the brain of the network, managing and controlling network devices and flows.
  • Scalability: ONOS is built to handle large-scale networks with thousands of devices and millions of flows, ensuring scalability and efficient network management.
  • High Availability: ONOS supports high availability through distributed architecture and clustering, ensuring continuous network operation even in the presence of failures.

9. Ryu:

Ryu is an open-source SDN framework written in Python. It allows developers to build SDN applications and network control applications using a simple and flexible API. Ryu supports the OpenFlow protocol and provides a range of libraries and tools for network programming.

Key features:

  • OpenFlow Controller: Ryu is designed to function as an OpenFlow controller, providing a programmable interface to control and manage OpenFlow-enabled network switches.
  • Network Application Development: Ryu allows developers to create network applications and services using Python, leveraging the flexibility and simplicity of the language for rapid prototyping and customization.
  • Event-Driven Architecture: Ryu follows an event-driven architecture, where applications can register to receive and process events triggered by network switches, such as packet arrivals or link status changes.

10. Pica8 PICOS:

Pica8 PICOS is a Linux-based network operating system for SDN environments. It provides a scalable and programmable platform for managing and controlling network switches using open protocols such as OpenFlow.

Key features:

  • Open Networking: PICOS supports open networking principles, allowing users to run a variety of network operating systems on commodity white-box switches.
  • Compatibility: PICOS is compatible with a wide range of white-box switches, providing flexibility in hardware selection and deployment.
  • SDN Capabilities: PICOS supports SDN (Software-Defined Networking) principles, enabling centralized network control, programmability, and automation.
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