Skip to Main Content
Utility companies are integrating multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technologies into existing backbone networks, including networks between substations and control centers. MPLS has mechanisms for efficient overlay technologies as well as mechanisms to enhance security: features essential to the functioning of the smart grid. However, with MPLS routing and other switching technologies innovation is restricted to the features enclosed “in the box.” More specifically, there is no practical way for utility operators or researchers to test new ideas such as alternatives to IP or MPLS on a realistic scale to obtain the experience and confidence necessary for real world deployments. As a result, novel ideas go untested. Conversely, the OpenFlow framework has enabled significant advancements in network research. OpenFlow provides utility operators and researchers the programmability and flexibility necessary to enable innovation in next-generation communication architectures for the smart grid. This level of flexibility allows OpenFlow to provide all features of MPLS and also allows OpenFlow devices to co-exist with existing MPLS devices. The simulation results in this paper demonstrate that OpenFlow performs as well as MPLS, and may therefore be considered an alternative to MPLS for smart grid applications.