July 6, 2013

Ten Things to Look for in an SDN Controller

Over the last six months there has been significant growth in the interest that IT organizations have shown in Software-Defined Networking (SDN), as well as in the number of SDN related announcements that vendors have made.  While a lot has been written about technologies such as the OpenFlow protocol that enable SDN, much less has been written about SDN controllers and what distinguishes one controller from another.  Given that SDN controllers are a new class of product, many IT organizations will struggle when it comes to evaluating them.  In order to assist IT organizations in choosing the most appropriate product, this white paper discusses the key criteria that IT organizations should use when evaluating an SDN controller. 

The majority of the characteristics that are discussed in this white paper are technical.  Some of these technical characteristics will be familiar to the reader, as they apply to most, if not all network elements.  This includes scalability, performance, security, centralized monitoring, visualization and reliability.  However, some of the technical characteristics are SDN-centric and hence will be new to most readers.  This includes OpenFlow support, network virtualization and network programmability.  In addition to the technical characteristics, this white paper also discusses the importance of IT organizations evaluating the vendors that provide SDN controllers, and the white paper suggests how IT organizations can perform this evaluation.

At the end of this document is a checklist of the key criteria that IT organizations can use when evaluating an SDN controller.

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