While the origins of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) date back to the 90s, this research area has not gained popularity until recently. The definitive impulse to SDN has been given with the creation of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) in 2011, dedicated to the promotion and adoption of SDN. Among other activities, the ONF has created and manages the OpenFlow standard. OpenFlow is a protocol that allows a controller to access and modify the forwarding plane (i.e., the routing tables) of routers and switches of a network.
In this project we will explore the intensive use of SDN for making the Internet scalable, manageable, and adaptable at an industry-grade level. To achieve this goal we will advance along three lines of research. Firstly, we will evaluate the potential impact of SDN concepts at a fundamental level, working with idealized models of networks and traffic patterns that allow providing provable guarantees. This first line will provide the theoretical foundations that can then be applied to the other two areas we plan to explore. These are intra-domain routing and wireless access solutions. We find these two areas extremely interesting and of high potential impact, because they are the building blocks of the mobile Internet architecture whose traffic demand is currently growing exponentially.
It is worth mentioning that this project considers much richer SDN models than those offered by current versions of OpenFlow. In our models, by means of the SDN underlying protocol, the controller has essentially complete information of the state of all the network elements, and has full control to change them. One expected outcome of this project is the identification of extensions worth to be added to OpenFlow or any other SDN system.