Avik Bhattacharya
Ixia Product Development Manager

How to Avoid Failure in SDN Adoption

November 10, 2016 by Avik Bhattacharya

Software defined networking (SDN) is the most transformational and profound paradigm shifts the networking industry is facing today. It is beginning to change how networking is done in core and access networks as well as in the data center and enterprise networks. While different types of networks can benefit from SDN applications, it is important to understand the pitfalls during SDN migration and how to avoid them.


Every new technology comes with a lot of unknowns and SDN is no exception. Although SDN brings many promises, it is a challenge for adopters to quantify the benefits, understand the practical migration steps, and measure success. It is important for network engineers to do proper validation at every stage of their network lifecycle.


When selecting an SDN controller, it is important to ensure its ability to support the scale of the underlying network infrastructure and at the same time, measure its latency or performance in decision making. For selecting the right switch vendor, you’ll need to measure the flow table capacity of the device and the forwarding performance.

Interoperability is a major factor during the network design phase. You should validate the controller’s ability to interpret and translate the northbound application-level instructions into network-level instructions—at large scale. Delay in generating correct southbound instructions by the controller or delay introduced by the switch in executing southbound instructions can make or break the network’s overall performance.

The SDN ecosystem is made of multiple technology pieces that need to work in tandem to achieve the end goal. During the deployment stage, network engineers must validate end-to-end functionality (i.e., ability of the system to learn the right underlying topology, provision network path, and dynamically adapt to network changes).

The performance benchmarking of traffic characteristics like latency or jitter and measurement of convergence time of data traffic in case of a network failure are other aspects of validation at this stage.3

To execute these steps, network engineers need the help of a tool that supports end-to-end validation with comprehensive coverage for all the technologies in the SDN ecosystem.

Ixia offers its industry-leading experience in network infrastructure validation through the IxNetwork SDN test portfolio. Top carriers and data center operators trust Ixia as a validation partner in their SDN journey.



IxNetwork makes it easy for engineers to test functionality and scale of controller protocols like OpenFlow, PCEP, and BGP LS by emulating large-scale network infrastructure in the lab. On the other hand, IxNetwork can emulate the controller to test the underlying network with respect to RSVP TE or Segment Routing. The tool can generate real-life workload and measure accurate latency or convergence time of traffic through the network.