Software-defined networking (SDN) offers potential pathways to overcome the management complexity of the Internet of Things (IoT). Previous studies have often been limited to software simulations or general proposals only. In this article, we design and evaluate an SDN-based management system for wireless sensor networks (WSNs) using IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area networks (6LoWPAN). The framework is described in detail covering different data-, control-, and application-plane implementations, and includes a novel addressing scheme and packet format. It also uses a centralized routing protocol, located at the SDN controller, based on the shortest path algorithm. We compare our approach with the routing protocol for low-power and lossy networks (RPL), which uses a distributed routing protocol. Hardware tests were carried out in a dynamic environment, with multiple sources of interference for different payload sizes to evaluate the impacts and practicality of SDN in WSNs. The performance comparison shows that the proposed SDN management system for IP-enabled WSNs using a centralized routing protocol outperforms the RPL protocol in terms of round-trip time, jitter, memory consumption, and packet loss rate (PLR), despite the control overhead introduced.
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