Towards Disaggregating the SDN Control Plane

Douglas Comer, Adib Rastegarnia

Current SDN controllers have been designed based on a monolithic approach that integrates all of services and applications into one single, huge program. The monolithic design of SDN controllers restricts programmers who build management applications to the specific programming interfaces and services that a given SDN controller provides, making application development dependent on the controller, and thereby restricting portability of management applications across controllers. Furthermore, the monolithic approach means an SDN controller must be recompiled whenever a change is made, and does not provide an easy way to add new functionality or scale to handle large networks. To overcome the weaknesses inherent in the monolithic approach, the next generation of SDN controllers must use a distributed, microservice architecture that disaggregates the control plane by dividing the monolithic controller into a set of cooperative microservices. In this paper, we explain the steps that are required to migrate from a monolithic to a microservice architecture and propose two potential architectures to achieve the goal. Finally, the paper reports the results of testbed measurements that we use to evaluate the proposed disaggregated architecture from multiple perspectives, including functionality and performance.

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