Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and OpenFlow are actively being standardized and deployed. These deployments rely on switches that come from various vendors and differ in terms of performance and available features. Understanding these differences and performance characteristics is essential for ensuring successful and safe deployments.
We propose a systematic methodology for SDN switch performance analysis and devise a series of experiments based on this methodology. The methodology relies on sending a stream of rule updates, while relying on both observing the control plane view as reported by the switch and probing the data plane state to determine switch characteristics by comparing these views. We measure, report and explain the performance characteristics of flow table updates in six hardware OpenFlow switches. Our results describing rule update rates can help SDN designers make their controllers efficient. Further, we also highlight differences between the OpenFlow specification and its implementations, that if ignored, pose a serious threat to network security and correctness.