Project Floodlight is committed to supporting the world’s largest open source software-defined networking (SDN) projects.

SDN is based on a 3-tier architecture

Application Tier

3-tier architectureNorthbound APIs are the programmatic interfaces between the controller platform and the applications running “on top”. The 3-tier architecture focuses on these APIs, which expose the universal network abstraction data models and functionality within the Floodlight controller for use by network applications. These interfaces are published and open to the open source community for development.

Control Plane Tier


The Floodlight Open SDN Controller is an enterprise-class, Apache-licensed, Java-based OpenFlow Controller. It is supported by a community of developers including a number of engineers from Big Switch Networks.

OpenFlow is a open standard managed by Open Networking Foundation.  It specifies a protocol through which a remote controller can modify the behavior of networking devices through a well-defined “forwarding instruction set”.  Floodlight is designed to work with the growing number of switches, routers, virtual witches, and access points that support the OpenFlow standard.

Floodlight is distributed under Apache License Version 2.0, which provides customers and application developers with maximum investment protection since their SDN architecture will always remain independent of vendor interests.

Data Plane Tier


In the 3-tier SDN architecture, the controller is physically decoupled from the data forwarding plane i.e. a physical or virtual switch can forward packets and a separate server can run the network control plane.

This decoupling allows for the control plane to be implemented using a different distribution model than the data plane. Second, it allows the control plane development and runtime environment to be on a different platform than the traditionally low-powered management CPUs found on hardware switches and routers. In order for this to work, there needs to be some way for the controller to communicate with the data plane. The most popular such mechanism is OpenFlow – a standard interface for controlling switches.



Project Floodlight is supported by engineers from Big Switch Networks and organizations all around the world. We are committed to open source, open standards, and open APIs.

We accept external contributions to these projects, and we practice open development.


Big Switch Networks Open SDN Suite

Floodlight and Indigo form the core of commercial offerings by Big Switch Networks and its partners. To learn more about Big Switch and its products, click here.