Topology discovery in software defined networks: Threats, taxonomy, and state-of-the-art

Suleman Khan, Abdullah Gani, Ainuddin Wahid Abdul Wahab, Mohsen Guizani, Muhammad Khurram Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


The fundamental role of the software defined networks (SDNs) is to decouple the data plane from the control plane, thus providing a logically centralized visibility of the entire network to the controller. This enables the applications to innovate through network programmability. To establish a centralized visibility, a controller is required to discover a network topology of the entire SDN infrastructure. However, discovering a network topology is challenging due to: 1) the frequent migration of the virtual machines in the data centers; 2) lack of authentication mechanisms; 3) scarcity of the SDN standards; and 4) integration of security mechanisms for the topology discovery. To this end, in this paper, we present a comprehensive survey of the topology discovery and the associated security implications in SDNs. This survey provides discussions related to the possible threats relevant to each layer of the SDN architecture, highlights the role of the topology discovery in the traditional network and SDN, presents a thematic taxonomy of topology discovery in SDN, and provides insights into the potential threats to the topology discovery along with its state-of-the-art solutions in SDN. Finally, this survey also presents future challenges and research directions in the field of SDN topology discovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-324
Number of pages22
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016


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