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ELEC5517: Software Defined Networks (2018 - Semester 2)

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Unit: ELEC5517: Software Defined Networks (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Electrical & Information Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Yuan, Dong
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: ELEC3506 OR ELEC9506.
Brief Handbook Description: This unit of study will introduce an emerging networking paradigm- Software Defined Networks (SDNs). By separating the control logics from the physical networks, the software defined networks allow an automated and programmable software program to logically control and manage the network. This unit introduces the basic principles of software defined networks, its architecture, abstraction, SDN programming, programmable control plane and data plane protocols, network update, network virtualisation, traffic management as well as its applications and implementations. Student will learn and practice SDN programming, testing and debugging on SDNs platforms through experiments and group projects. It is assumed that the students have some knowledge on data communications and networks.
Assumed Knowledge: ELEC3506 OR ELEC9506. Students need to know the concepts of data communications and Internet, which could be gained in the following units of study: ELEC3506/ELEC9506 Data Communications and the Internet, or similar units. If you are not sure, please contact the instructor.
Lecturer/s: Dr Yuan, Dong
Timetable: ELEC5517 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Laboratory 2.00 1 12
3 Project Work - own time 2.00 1 12
4 Independent Study 4.00 13
T&L Activities: Independent Study: Students need to do some preparation for labs, revision knowledge learnt in lectures, searching information for designing their project.

Project Work - own time: Students will design and implement their project as assignment.

Laboratory: Labs are devoted to hands on experience with popular SDN tools which will be used in students' projects.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Understand the structure of SDN systems. Students are required to design and implement a prototype SDN system in the project work. Design (Level 4)
Gain an understanding of SDN technology and analyse issues in SDN systems. Various SDN systems used in real applications are introduced and analysed. Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
Popular SDN tools will be introduced. Students will learn how to use these tools to model and implement SDN system. Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
Intensive research will be included in the project work and the assignment. Students need to collect comprehensive information from various sources in order to perform well. Information Seeking (Level 4)
As one of the main assessments, students need to write concise, accurate and convincing project reports. Each team is also required to give a presentation about their project at the end of the semester. Communication (Level 4)
The group project work requires students to manage their progress through the entire project, including modelling, implementing and demonstrating the project. Project and Team Skills (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Project and Team Skills (Level 3)
1. Work collaboratively in a team with productive progress management and tasks assignment.
Communication (Level 4)
2. Write professional project reports and present the project in the class.
Information Seeking (Level 4)
3. Students gain the ability to investigate new technologies by intensive literature review.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
4. In-depth knowledge of SDN concept, system architecture, issues in practice.
Design (Level 4)
5. Understand SDN technologies and structure of SDN systems, and design a prototype system in the project.
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
6. Use popular tools to model and implement a SDN system.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Project Yes 50.00 Multiple Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
2 Mid Semester Test No 10.00 Week 7 4, 5, 6,
3 Final Exam No 40.00 Exam Period 4, 5, 6,
Assessment Description: Project Report: Team report written up in formal report style which contributions self-assessed.

Mid-semester Exam: Closed book quiz style to test understanding of concepts.

Final Exam: The final exam will cover all knowledge learnt in this unit.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Prescribed Text/s: Note: Students are expected to have a personal copy of all books listed.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
  • SDN: Software Defined Networks

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Introduction to SDN, including fundamental concepts, key trends and terms, enabling technologies, challenges and opportunities.
Week 2 Enabling Technologies in SDN, including exploring the current state of the OpenFlow model and centralized network control.
Week 3 Architecture of SDN, including traditional networking architecture, the concept of network as a service, SDN architecture elements and design patterns.
Week 4 Delve into distributed and central control, including data plane generation. Examine the structure and capabilities of commercial and open source controllers.
Week 5 Survey the available technologies for network programmability. Trace the modern data center from desktop-centric to highly distributed models.
Week 6 Discuss new ways to connect instances of network-function virtualization and service chaining, and detailed information on constructing and maintaining an SDN network topology.
Week 7 Examine an idealized SDN framework for controllers, applications, and ecosystems.
Assessment Due: Mid Semester Test
Week 8 Security issues in SDN, including typical networking issues, network attacks, existing security solutions, advantages and challenges of security in SDN.
Week 9 Performance and scalability issues in SDN, including analysis of performance bottlenecks in SDN, new hardware, new service oriented network architecture.
Week 10 Cost issues for businesses in implementing SDN, including potential benefits, as well as the risks, in shifting parts of a network to the SDN model.
Week 11 Research in SDN, topic 1.
Week 12 Research in SDN, topic 2.
Week 13 Unit review.
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Electrical Mid-Year 2018, 2016, 2017
Electrical 2017, 2018, 2016
Electrical / Project Management 2018, 2016, 2017
Software Mid-Year 2017
Software 2017
Graduate Certificate in Information Technology 2017, 2018
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology 2017, 2018
Master of Engineering 2017, 2018
Master of Information Technology 2017, 2018
Master of IT/Master of IT Management 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Electrical) 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Software) 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Telecommunications) 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical / Arts 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical / Commerce 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical / Medical Science 2016, 2017
Electrical / Music Studies 2016, 2017
Electrical / Science 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical/Science (Health) 2018
Electrical / Law 2016, 2017, 2018
Electrical/Science (Medical Science Stream) 2018

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Professional Conduct (Level 2) No 0%
Project and Team Skills (Level 3) Yes 10%
Communication (Level 4) Yes 10%
Information Seeking (Level 4) Yes 10%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4) Yes 30%
Design (Level 4) Yes 20%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4) Yes 20%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.