Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is an emerging paradigm that promises to change this state of affairs. It is designed in such a way that it breaks this vertical integration, separating the network’s control logic from the underlying specialised and expensive hardware such as routers and switches, promoting logical centralisation of network control, and introducing the ability to program the network. The separation of elements introduced between the definition of network policies, their implementation in switching hardware, and the forwarding of traffic are key factors to achieve the desired flexibility. By breaking the network control problem into tractable pieces, SDN makes it easier to create and introduce new abstractions in networking, simplifying network management and facilitating network evolution.

Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) focusses on the orchestration of network functions, including the combined control of computing, storage and networking resources. SDN was developed across several research groups focussing on specific issues along the network and is in a standardization process within the Open Network Foundation (ONF). NFV was developed and standardised by the NFV industry specification group (ISG) within the European Technology Standards Institute (ETSI). NFV and SDN concepts are independent technologies but they are considered to be complementary, sharing the aim of accelerating innovation inside the network by allowing programmability, and altogether changing the network operational model through automation and a real shift to software-based platforms.

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