Languages for software-defined networks

Nate Foster, Arjun Guha, Mark Reitblatt, Alec Story, Michael Joseph Freedman, Naga Praveen Katta, Christopher Monsanto, Joshua Reich, Jennifer L. Rexford, Cole Schlesinger, David P. Walker, Robert Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Modern computer networks perform a bewildering array of tasks, from routing and traffic monitoring, to access control and server load balancing. However, managing these networks is unnecessarily complicated and error-prone, due to a heterogeneous mix of devices (e.g., routers, switches, firewalls, and middleboxes) with closed and proprietary configuration interfaces. Softwaredefined networks are poised to change this by offering a clean and open interface between networking devices and the software that controls them. In particular, many commercial switches support the OpenFlow protocol, and a number of campus, data center, and backbone networks have deployed the new technology. However, while SDNs make it possible to program the network, they does not make it easy. Today's OpenFlow controllers offer low-level APIs that mimic the underlying switch hardware. To reach SDNs¿ full potential, we need to identify the right higher-level abstractions for creating (and composing) applications. In the Frenetic project, we are designing simple and intuitive abstractions for programming the three main stages of network management: monitoring network traffic, specifying and composing packet forwarding policies, and updating policies in a consistent way. Overall, these abstractions make it dramatically easier for programmers to write and reason about SDN applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6461197
Pages (from-to)128-134
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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