Control Plane Architecture of Software Defined Coalitions

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Military / Coalition Issue

Military missions require the use of infrastructure assets including communication links, computational servers, data storage, databases, sensors and other resources. Dynamicity and agility of military operations demand near real-time configuration, re-configuration and provisioning of these resources, while supporting efficient and robust sharing of assets across armed forces or coalition partners. State-of-the-art techniques cannot currently achieve this.

Core idea and Key Achievements

A new architecture called Software Defined Coalitions (SDC) has been developed, which extends the existing Software Defined Networking (SDN), to address the above issue. With SDC, the network control logic is implemented as software at the SDC controller which is programmable to enable rapid configuration for mission objectives. The controller maintains also a conceptually centralized view of the network status that can be valuable for many networking applications. However, due to high network dynamics the controller may be fragmented from the nodes it manages rendering impossible their reconfiguration. An approach that improves the robustness of SDC is therefore needed.

Key achievements include the development of:

  • Hybrid SDC/MANET (mobile ad-hoc network) architectures where the SDC controller can interface and dynamically switch the control mode to a distributed MANET protocol (e.g., OLSR) to handle network fragmentation events.
  • Distributed verification mechanisms for discovery of the controller by the mobile nodes and switching the control mode accordingly.
  • Algebra to support continuous and frequent network configuration updates by the SDC controller
  • Novel paradigm to enable inter coalition coordination through the SDC controllers
  • Testbed experiments with real mobile devices showing the benefits of hybrid SDC/MANET for dynamic routing and failover

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Implications for Defence

The hybrid SDC/MANET architecture and accompanying mechanisms will enable defence to realise the concept of SDC even in the most challenging ad hoc network environments, reap the benefits of centralized and programmable network control and deliver intelligent cloud-like services involving multiple coalition enclaves that were impossible to realize by relying only to traditional MANET protocols.

Readiness and Alternative Defence Uses

This work is technology readiness level (TRL) 2/3. Many of the SDC techniques have been prototyped in practical systems or environments, including the demo Hybrid SDN/MANET. Further work will enhance the readiness of the new techniques for practical defence systems.

Resources and References

Samples of related publications include:


Yale University, IBM US, UCL, Imperial College, ARL, Dstl