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Reaping the Benefits of Partial SDN Deployment in Enterprise Networks

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The operational challenges posed in enterprise networks, present an appealing opportunity for the software-defined orchestration of the network (SDN). However, the primary challenge to realizing solutions built on SDN in the enterprise is the deployment problem. Unlike in the datacenter, network upgrades in the enterprise start with the existing deployment and are particularly budget and resource-constrained. In this work, we investigate the prospect for partial Software Defined Network deployment. We present Panopticon, an architecture and methodology for planning and operating networks that combine legacy and upgraded SDN switches. Panopticon exposes an abstraction of a fully-deployed SDN in a partially upgraded legacy network, where the SDN benefits extend potentially over the entire network. We evaluate the feasibility of our approach through simulation on real enterprise campus network topologies entailing over 1500 switches and routers. Our results suggest that with only a handful of upgraded switches, it becomes possible to operate most of an enterprise network as a single SDN while meeting key resource constraints.

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