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Modelling and Performance Analysis of OpenFlow Switches in Software-Defined Networking

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Version 2 2023-09-26, 01:36
Version 1 2021-12-07, 14:20
posted on 2023-09-26, 01:36 authored by Singh, Deepak

Software-Defined-Networking (SDN) simplifies the configuration complexity in the computer communication network by decoupling the control plane from the data plane in a switch. In SDN, the switch has the data plane only and is configured by the logically centralised controller which simplifies the forwarding of packets in the network. However, an SDN switch is sensitive to delay and loss of packets which significantly affects the network performance.  This thesis uses queueing theory to conduct modelling and performance analysis of OpenFlow-based SDN switches. OpenFlow is the de-facto protocol for communication between an SDN switch and the controller. Using queueing theory, three aspects of packet processing in an SDN switch are explored. First, the existing research has primarily modelled the output buffer of an SDN switch using two buffer sharing mechanisms: the single shared buffer and the priority buffer. However, the effect of buffer dimensioning in these buffer sharing mechanisms has not been investigated. Buffer dimensioning helps in determining the minimum buffer capacity for a desired loss probability. The research in this thesis shows that the use of priority buffer in an SDN switch reduces the time to update flow tables than the shared buffer but at the cost of a higher buffer capacity.  Second, much of the existing research has not investigated the impact of internal buffering of data packets whereby a fraction of a data packet header is sent to the controller instead of an entire data packet. To investigate the impact of internal buffering, the queueing model for an SDN switch with the internal buffer is developed. The investigation shows that at the time of congestion, the internal buffer in an SDN switch improves the network performance with lower delay and lower packet loss.  Finally, existing research has focused on a software switch in SDN and very little research has studied the performance of a hardware switch. To characterise the performance of SDN-based hardware and software switches and identify the tradeoffs between them, a unified queueing model has been developed. The unified queueing model is an analytical tool for network engineers to predict delay and packet loss in their SDN deployments. The analysis shows the benefits of a hardware switch over a software switch. These benefits are lower delay and lower packet loss. However, the increasing involvement of the controller reduces the benefit of using a hardware switch, i.e. forwarding packets at the line speed rate.  This research guides network designers and analysts in the selection of the shared or buffer model for an SDN switch for their desired Quality of Service (QoS). Furthermore, the developed queueing model for an SDN switch with the internal buffer studies the impact of internal buffering in an SDN switch. Finally, the unified queueing model helps in the selection of a software or hardware switch in SDN.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Network Engineering

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Engineering at Victoria

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Engineering and Computer Science


Ng, Bryan; Seah, Winston