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KAIST Lands High Honor From the SDN World Congress

November 02, 2016

When software-defined networking (SDN) first emerged, there were plenty who thought that it would be little more than an academic curiosity, unlike its close cohort network functions virtualization (NFV), which found roles in the private sector fairly rapidly. That's changing, and recently, KAIST drove that point home by taking the Best SDN Solution Showcase Award at the SDN World Congress event.

The KAIST team, comprised of Professor Seungwon Shin and his research team—including doctoral students Changhoon Yoon, Jaehyun Nam,and Seungsoo Lee—brought out a solution known as DELTA. DELTA's focus is on security, an evaluation framework that can both recognize certain attack patterns leveled against SDN elements and identify as-yet-unknown security problems in the making.

Using a control plane, a data plane, and a control channel to connect the two together, the DELTA project thus not only interfaces with the part of a network that deals in routing and signaling traffic, but also the part of the network that controls user traffic. Thus, it essentially has a decent look at much of the network's traffic, and can use that perspective to spot when things don't quite look according to Hoyle. It's thus able to spot and mount defenses against OpenFlow protocol attacks, meaning it can protect both operating systems and the network switch devices that follow.

Now registered with the Open Networking Foundation, the DELTA project represents the only open-source SDN, reports note, led by Korean researchers. It was the sheer importance of the project, however, that prompted the SDN World Congress to hand down the award.

Professor Shin, meanwhile, commented “In recent years, SDN has been attracting a large amount of interest as an emerging technology, but there still have not many SDN projects in Korea. This award acknowledges the advancement of Korean SDN technology, showing the potential for Korea to become a leader in SDN research.”

SDN, much like NFV, allows businesses to virtualize certain functions, and thus take the need for purpose-built hardware off the table in some cases too. With an increased reliance on both SDN and NFV, the need to secure these systems is all the more present. The tools to secure SDN and NFV, meanwhile, are a little lacking—these are still comparatively new systems, after all—so any development we can see in SDN or NFV, particularly where security matters are involved, is important and should be pursued aggressively.

That's what makes handing Shin et al an award a smart idea. It calls attention to a very real need for improved security as part of development, and encourages others to step into this fray to earn similar accolades. In the process, it offers better protection for SDN and NFV operations, and makes these safer to use. With this award, the SDN World Congress will have hopefully opened the floodgates for future development, and made the whole field a little safer for it.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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