OpenFlow controller

An OpenFlow controller is an application that manages flow control in a software-defined networking (SDN) environment. Most current SDN controllers are based on the OpenFlow protocol.

The SDN controller serves as a sort of operating system (OS) for the network. All communications between applications and devices have to go through the controller. The OpenFlow protocol connects controller software to network devices so that server software can tell switches where to send packets. The controller uses the OpenFlow protocol to configure network devices and choose the best path for application traffic. Because the network control plane is implemented in software, rather than the firmware of hardware devices, network traffic can be managed more dynamically and at a much more granular level.


This was last updated in March 2013

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