The Power of Composition: Abstracting a Multi-Device SDN Data Path Through a Single API
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Software Defined Networking aims to separate network control and data plane by moving the control logic from network elements into a logically-centralized controller. Using a well-defined, unified control-channel protocol, such as OpenFlow, the controller is able to configure the forwarding behavior of data plane devices. Here, the OpenFlow protocol is translated to vendor-and device-specific instructions that, for instance, manipulate the flow table entries of a switch. In practice, SDN-enabled switches often feature different hardware capabilities and configurations with respect to the number of flow tables, their implementation, and which kind of data plane features they support. This leads to device heterogeneity within the SDN landscape, thereby obstructing the increased scalability and flexibility promised by the SDN paradigm. To overcome this challenge we propose TableVisor, a transparent proxy-layer for the SDN control channel that enables the flexible abstraction of heterogeneous data plane devices into a single emulated data plane switch. In this paper, we extend our previous work by introducing features to integrate modern P4 devices into an existing SDN environment and perform a detailed performance evaluation to quantify the overhead induced by our approach.