SDN and OpenFlow

The Hype and the Harsh Reality

Overall rating: 4.67 Contents: 4.70 more …

The first digital book in the Software Defined Networking series describes the principles of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and controller-based network architectures, the characteristics, limitations and scalability challenges of OpenFlow, and alternate SDN approaches.

The book is available in DRM-free watermarked PDF format.


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More about the book

OpenFlow and Software Defined Networks (SDN) entered mainstream awareness in March 2011 when several large cloud providers and Internet Service Providers formed Open Networking Foundation.

More than three years later, the media still doesn’t understand the basics of SDN, and many networking engineers feel threatened by what they see as a fundamental shift in the way they do their jobs.

In the meantime, I published over a hundred blog posts on trying to debunk the myths, explain how SDN and OpenFlow work, and what their advantages and limitations are. Most of the posts were responses to external triggers – false claims, vendor launches, or questions I received from my readers.

This book contains a collection of the most relevant blog posts describing the concepts of SDN and OpenFlow. I cleaned up the blog posts and corrected obvious errors and omissions, but also tried to leave most of the content intact. The commentaries between the individual blog posts will help you understand the timeline or the context in which a particular blog post was written.


The book covers these topics:

  • The debunking of the initial hype surrounding OpenFlow public launch and the most blatant misconceptions (Chapter 1);
  • Overview of what SDN is, what it benefits might be, and deliberations whether or not it makes sense (Chapter 2);
  • Introduction to OpenFlow, from architectural basics to protocol details, and deployment and forwarding models (Chapter 3);
  • OpenFlow implementation notes, describing the peculiarities of hardware and software implementations of OpenFlow switches (Chapter 4);
  • OpenFlow scalability challenges, from control-plane complexity to packet punting and limitations of flow table updates (Chapter 5);
  • OpenFlow use cases, from production deployment @ Google to interesting ready-to-use architectures and musings on potential future uses (Chapter 6);
  • SDN beyond OpenFlow (Chapter 7), covering BGP-based SDN, NETCONF, I2RS, Cisco’s OnePK and Plexxi’s controller-based data center fabrics.

Happy Campers

About the book

Ivan's book is like a life raft in a sea of never ending SDN/NFV slideware that vendors offer up. It has allowed me to step back re-focus on the needs of the business.

Mark McSweeny
I like blog posts because they are intense, so this is an intense book. The content is well organized and it reads like a book. Ivan's writing style is so refreshing. I found some articles very inspirational... look for Fermi estimates, genius!
Antonio Sanchez Monge
very informative
morgan king
Deep, smart and funny!