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ODL as any other controller, takes the control plane away from the forwarding.So, when you have the switches you have the forwarding part.The controller is the control plane.ODL can push flow entries inside the connected switches so that when they receive packets,they match some packets fileds to the fields of the entries.If they match there are instsructions and actions that define what to do next to the packet. So, ODL can "route" packets in the sense of being the "mind" of the topology. You can refer to ODL specification(opendaylight web site) to understand it better. Or you can even look up, the SDN architecture.

Greetings.

ODL as any other controller, takes the control plane away from the forwarding.So, when you have the switches you have the forwarding part.The controller is the control plane.ODL can push flow entries inside the connected switches so that when they receive packets,they match some packets fileds to the fields of the entries.If they match there are instsructions and actions that define what to do next to the packet. So, ODL can "route" packets in the sense of being the "mind" of the topology. You can refer to ODL specification(opendaylight web site) to understand it better. Or you can even look up, the SDN architecture.

Greetings.

(EDIT AFTER COMMENT)

ODL controller has flows, that match incoming packets.These flows can be inserted automatically with specific features, or manually through RESTCONF. I will link some pages for more info about the flows and the features. https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/OpenDaylightOpenFlowPlugin::RunningcontrollerwiththenewOFplugin https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/OpenDaylightOpenFlowPlugin::EndtoEndInventory https://wiki.opendaylight.org/view/OpenDaylightOpenFlowPlugin:EndtoEndFlows