Improving the performance of load balancing in software-defined networks through load variance-based synchronization

Zehua Guo, Mu Su, Yang Xu, Zhemin Duan, Luo Wang, Shufeng Hui, H. Jonathan Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a new network technology that decouples the control plane logic from the data plane and uses a programmable software controller to manage network operation and the state of network components. In an SDN network, a logically centralized controller uses a global network view to conduct management and operation of the network. The centralized control of the SDN network presents a tremendous opportunity for network operators to refactor the control plane and to improve the performance of applications. For the application of load balancing, the logically centralized controller conducts Real-time Least loaded Server selection (RLS) for multiple domains, where new flows pass by for the first time. The function of RLS is to enable the new flows to be forwarded to the least loaded server in the entire network. However, in a large-scale SDN network, the logically centralized controller usually consists of multiple distributed controllers. Existing multiple controller state synchronization schemes are based on Periodic Synchronization (PS), which can cause undesirable situations. For example, frequent synchronizations may result in high synchronization overhead of controllers. State desynchronization among controllers during the interval between two consecutive synchronizations could lead to forwarding loops and black holes. In this paper, we propose a new type of controller state synchronization scheme, Load Variance-based Synchronization (LVS), to improve the load-balancing performance in the multi-controller multi-domain SDN network. Compared with PS-based schemes, LVS-based schemes conduct effective state synchronizations among controllers only when the load of a specific server or domain exceeds a certain threshold, which significantly reduces the synchronization overhead of controllers. The results of simulations show that LVS achieves loop-free forwarding and good load-balancing performance with much less synchronization overhead, as compared with existing schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalComputer Networks
StatePublished - Aug 5 2014


  • Controller state synchronization
  • Load balancing
  • Multiple controllers
  • Software-Defined Networking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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