Hybrid SDN networks: A survey of existing approaches

Rashid Amin, Martin Reisslein, Nadir Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

248 Scopus citations


Software defined networking (SDN) decouples the control plane from the data plane of forwarding devices. This separation provides several benefits, including the simplification of network management and control. However, due to a variety of reasons, such as budget constraints and fear of downtime, many organizations are reluctant to fully deploy SDN. Partially deploying SDN through the placement of a limited number of SDN devices among legacy (traditional) network devices, forms a socalled hybrid SDN network. While hybrid SDN networks provide many of the benefits of SDN and have a wide range of applications, they also pose several challenges. These challenges have recently been addressed in a growing body of literature on hybrid SDN network structures and protocols. This paper presents a comprehensive up-to-date survey of the research and development in the field of hybrid SDN networks. We have organized the survey into five main categories, namely hybrid SDN network deployment strategies, controllers for hybrid SDN networks, protocols for hybrid SDN network management, traffic engineering mechanisms for hybrid SDN networks, as well as testing, verification, and security mechanisms for hybrid SDN networks. We thoroughly survey the existing hybrid SDN network studies according to this taxonomy and identify gaps and limitations in the existing body of research. Based on the outcomes of the existing research studies as well as the identified gaps and limitations, we derive guidelines for future research on hybrid SDN networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2837161
Pages (from-to)3259-3306
Number of pages48
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Hybrid SDN network
  • Network management
  • SDN controller
  • Software defined networking (SDN)
  • Traffic engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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