Monitoring an SDN, Part 2 (Monitoring the Controller)

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

Monitoring an SDN is going to be an interesting proposition. I wrote about the first part of monitoring and management in Monitoring a Software Defined Network, Part 1. I talk about monitoring stuff that happens on the network (i.e. switch or data plane) side of an SDN. Many of the low-level errors that we monitor today in traditional networks are also important in an SDN.

But there’s also the need to monitor the controller, just as there has been a need to monitor the CPU and processes in a traditional router or switch. I talk about monitoring the SDN controller in the second post of the series: Monitoring a Software Defined Network, Part 2. How are developers and network operators supposed to know when a controller is experiencing problems? How will the staff know about loss of connectivity between multiple controllers? Will we be able to detect DoS attacks against controllers? Is the SDN controller having problems communicating with some of the switches, possibly affecting the network’s optimally route new flows?

These types of questions should be addressed by SDN controller designers before the systems get deployed. Let’s hope that the developers don’t decide to add management after the fact, as has happened so frequently with traditional networking equipment.



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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.