Using GENI for experimental evaluation of Software Defined Networking in smart grids


The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) envisions a smart grid that aggressively explores advance communication network solutions to facilitate real-time monitoring and dynamic control of the bulk electric power system. At the distribution level, the smart grid integrates renewable generation and energy storage mechanisms to improve the reliability of the grid. Furthermore, dynamic pricing and demand management provide customers an avenue to interact with the power system to determine the electricity usage that best satisfies their lifestyle. At the transmission level, efficient communication and a highly automated architecture provide visibility in the power system and as a result, faults are mitigated faster than they can propagate. However, such higher levels of reliability and efficiency rest on the supporting communication infrastructure. To date, utility companies are moving towards Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) because it supports traffic engineering and virtual private networks (VPNs). Furthermore, it provides Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees and fail-over mechanisms in addition to meeting the requirement of non-routability as stipulated by NERC. However, these benefits come at a cost for the infrastructure that supports the fullMPLS specification. With this realization and given a two week implementation and deployment window in GENI, we explore the modularity and flexibility provided by the low cost OpenFlow Software Defined Networking (SDN) solution. In particular, we use OpenFlow to provide 1.) automatic fail-over mechanisms, 2.) a load balancing, and 3.) Quality of Service guarantees: all essential mechanisms for smart grid networks.



Software Defined Networking, OpenFlow, GENI, Traffic engineering, Quality of service