Controllers done SDN Right!


Controllers are the primary, inseparable brain of the Software Defined Networking structure. This is apparently the software or set of instructions and programmable by the administrator of the configurable network.

SDN encompasses the flexibility and agility in visualization of server, storage and data communication in the network level. This allows the administrators and network engineers to respond quickly to the changing business needs in terms of configuring the network architecture and maintain the data flow. The whole network architecture is controlled by a central software unit that regulates the hardware at the same time. Any SDN architecture contains 3 levels of communication in between Controller/s, Switches and end Nodes. Whereas, the controller is the brain of the whole network.

In SDN’s purest form, controller has all the intelligence of the network while switches are the dumb hardware regarded as commercial off-the-shelf (COT) devices manageable by controllers. Using OpenFlow or OVSDB the controllers manage the data communication and traffic flows within the southbound and northbound interface.

Controllers are what make SDN to be perfectly defined by software and configurable through access control disregarding the hardware connected within.

Since, the controllers are configurable set of programmable units, the BIG vendors are working to build the most intellectual ones. Until the date there’ve been many controller vendors came out with their flagship products. Some of the controllers are Open Source community driven initiatives while most of them are proprietary.  Most prominant SDN Controller Vendors are BrocadeCiscoHPEJuniperNEC,and Nuage. It’s hard to say which is better among them since the purpose and platform of working is different for each of the SDN controllers out there.

A list of community supportive Open Source Controllers-

Commercial controllers are more industry oriented to give development interface, interportability and customizable support for the SDN administrators to offer a deliverable service. Let’s learn about some of the vendor oriented SDN controllers.


The Brocade SDN Controller (formerly Vyatta Controller) addresses them all—with an open source architecture that’s fully tested, documented, and quality assured. Later on August 2017, Brocade branches out it’s SDN controller into Lumina Networks Inc. Apart from, SDN Controller Lumina also offers NetDev Services to help organizations transform their network engineering and operations team.

Lumina’s product portfolio includes:

  • Lumina SDN Controller
  • Lumina Flow Manager
  • Lumina Zero Touch Installer

The Cisco Open SDN Controller is a commercial distribution of OpenDaylight that delivers business agility through automation of standards-based network infrastructure. It abstracts away the complexity of managing heterogeneous network environments to improve service delivery and reduce operating costs.

Huawei’s agile SDN Controller

Huawei is a market leader in Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Their Agile SDN Controller is the core component of Huawei’s agile SDN solutions and delivers solid benefits to rapidly changing network requirements.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller

Designed to work with low cost Open Compute Project (OCP) inspired network equipment, the award-winning SDN ProgrammableFlow Controller (PFC) supports a packet processing pipeline capability to ensure an efficient, high performance and flexible network architecture.

HPE’s Aruba VAN SDN Controller Software

Aruba Virtual Application Networks (VAN) SDN Controller Software provides a unified control point in an SDN-enabled network, simplifying management, provisioning and orchestration. This enables delivery of a new generation of application-based network services for campus, data center or service provider environment.


CONTRAIL offers open SDN controller solution for cloud and NFV environments that improves business agility with security, availability, performance, automation, and elasticity.

In the coming series of SDN Controller Stories, I’ll be sharing the different controller properties, advantages, scope and use of aspects in the industry.



About the author


Asma Swapna is a tech content writer at Brain Station 23 and an active open source enthusiast. She conventionally writes on the fact that interests her most. Asma's recent R&D enlists SDN, RUST lang and corporate behavior.

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By asma


Asma Swapna is a tech content writer at Brain Station 23 and an active open source enthusiast. She conventionally writes on the fact that interests her most. Asma's recent R&D enlists SDN, RUST lang and corporate behavior.

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