Reconfigurable Network Systems and Software-Defined Networking

Modern high-speed networks have evolved from relatively static networks to highly adaptive networks facilitating dynamic reconfiguration. This evolution has influenced all levels of network design and management, introducing increased programmability and configuration flexibility. This influence has extended from the lowest level of physical hardware interfaces to the highest level of network management by software. A key representative of this evolution is the emergence of software-defined networking (SDN). In this paper, we review the current state of the art in reconfigurable network systems, covering hardware reconfiguration, SDN, and the interplay between them.

We take a top–down approach, starting with a tutorial on software-defined networks. We then continue to discuss programming languages as the linking element between different levels of software and hardware in the network. We review electronic switching systems, highlighting programmability and reconfiguration aspects, and describe the trends in reconfigurable network elements. Finally, we describe the state of the art in the integration of photonic transceiver and switching elements with electronic technologies, and consider the implications for SDN and reconfigurable network systems.