Software Defined Optical Networks (SDONs): A Comprehensive Survey

Akhilesh S. Thyagaturu, Anu Mercian, Michael P. McGarry, Martin Reisslein, Wolfgang Kellerer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

268 Scopus citations


The emerging software defined networking (SDN) paradigm separates the data plane from the control plane and centralizes network control in an SDN controller. Applications interact with controllers to implement network services, such as network transport with quality of service. SDN facilitates the virtualization of network functions so that multiple virtual networks can operate over a given installed physical network infrastructure. Due to the specific characteristics of optical (photonic) communication components and the high optical transmission capacities, SDN-based optical networking poses particular challenges, but holds also great potential. In this article, we comprehensively survey studies that examine the SDN paradigm in optical networks; in brief, we survey the area of software defined optical networks (SDONs). We mainly organize the SDON studies into studies focused on the infrastructure layer, the control layer, and the application layer. Moreover, we cover SDON studies focused on network virtualization, as well as SDON studies focused on the orchestration of multilayer and multidomain networking. Based on the survey, we identify open challenges for SDONs and outline future directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7503119
Pages (from-to)2738-2786
Number of pages49
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Control layer
  • infrastructure layer
  • optical network
  • orchestration
  • software defined networking (SDN)
  • virtual network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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