Software-Defined Networking (SDN): Layers and Architecture Terminology

This RFC 7426 was published in 2015.


Software-Defined Networking (SDN) refers to a new approach for network programmability, that is, the capacity to initialize, control, change, and manage network behavior dynamically via open interfaces.
SDN emphasizes the role of software in running networks through the introduction of an abstraction for the data forwarding plane and, by doing so, separates it from the control plane.
This separation allows faster innovation cycles at both planes as experience has already shown.
However, there is increasing confusion as to what exactly SDN is, what the layer structure is in an SDN architecture, and how layers interface with each other.
This document, a product of the IRTF Software-Defined Networking Research Group (SDNRG), addresses these questions and provides a concise reference for the SDN research community based on relevant peer- reviewed literature, the RFC series, and relevant documents by other standards organizations.

RFC 7426 introduction

"Software-Defined Networking (SDN)" is a term of the programmable networks paradigm [PNSurvey99] [OF08].
In short, SDN refers to the ability of software applications to program individual network devices dynamically and therefore control the behavior of the network as a whole [NV09].
Boucadair and Jacquenet [RFC7149] point out that SDN is a set of techniques used to facilitate the design, delivery, and operation of network services in a deterministic, dynamic, and scalable manner.

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