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Evolving SDN for Low-Power IoT Networks

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Original languageEnglish
Pages71 - 79
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Jun 2018
DatePublished (current) - 13 Sep 2018
EventIEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 25 Jun 201829 Jun 2018


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization
Abbreviated titleNetSoft 2018
Internet address


Software Defined Networking (SDN) offers a flexible and scalable architecture that abstracts decision making away from individual devices and provides a programmable network platform. Low-power wireless Internet of Things (IoT) networks, where multi-tenant and multi-application architectures require scalable and configurable solutions, are ideally placed to capitalize on this research. However, implementing a centralized SDN architecture within the constraints of a low-power wireless network faces considerable challenges. Not only is controller traffic subject to jitter due to unreliable links and network contention, but the overhead generated by SDN can severely affect the performance of other traffic. This paper addresses the challenge of bringing high-overhead SDN architecture to IEEE 802.15.4 networks. We explore how the traditional view of SDN needs to evolve in order to overcome the constraints of low-power wireless networks, and discuss protocol and architectural optimizations necessary to reduce SDN control overhead - the main barrier to successful implementation. Additionally, we argue that interoperability with the existing protocol stack is necessary to provide a platform for controller discovery, and coexistence with legacy networks. We consequently introduce µSDN, a lightweight SDN framework for Contiki OS with both IPv6 and underlying routing protocol interoperability, as well as optimizing a number of elements within the SDN architecture to reduce control overhead to practical levels. We evaluate µSDN in terms of latency, energy, and packet delivery. Through this evaluation we show how the cost of SDN control overhead (both bootstrapping and management) can be reduced to a point where comparable performance and scalability is achieved against an IEEE 802.15.4-2012 RPL-based network. Additionally, we demonstrate µSDN through simulation: providing a use-case where the SDN configurability can be used to provide Quality of Service (QoS) for critical network flows experiencing interference, and we achieve considerable reductions in delay and jitter in comparison to a scenario without SDN.

    Research areas

  • SDN, Overhead, IEEE 802.15.4, IoT, WSN, Sensor Networks, RPL


IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization

Abbreviated titleNetSoft 2018
Duration25 Jun 201829 Jun 2018
Web address (URL)
Degree of recognitionInternational event

Event: Conference




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