The operational challenges posed in enterprise networks present an appealing opportunity for automated orchestration by way of Software-Defined Networking (SDN). The primary challenge to SDN adoption in the enterprise is the deployment problem: How to deploy and operate a network consisting of both legacy and SDN switches, while benefiting from simplified management and enhanced flexibility of SDN.
This paper presents the design and implementation of Panopticon, an architecture for operating networks that combine legacy and SDN switches. Panopticon exposes an abstraction of a logical SDN in a partially upgraded legacy network, where SDN benefits can extend over the entire network. We demonstrate the feasibility and evaluate the efficiency of our approach through both testbed experiments with hardware switches and through simulation on real enterprise campus network topologies entailing over 1500 devices. Our results suggest that when as few as 10% of distribution switches support SDN, most of an enterprise network can be operated as a single SDN while meeting key resource constraints.