Evolving SDN for Low-Power IoT Networks

Michael Baddeley, Reza Nejabati, George Oikonomou, Mahesh Sooriyabandara, Dimitra Simeonidou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

53 Citations (Scopus)
282 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2018 4th IEEE Conference on Network Softwarization and Workshops (NetSoft 2018)
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of a meeting held 25-29 June 2018, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781538646342
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sept 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


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


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