Network function virtualization enablement within SDN data plane

Hesham Mekky, Fang Hao, Sarit Mukherjee, T. V. Lakshman, Zhi-Li Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

19 Scopus citations


Software Defined Networking (SDN) can benefit a Network Function Virtualization solution by chaining a set of network functions (NF) to create a network service. Currently, control on NFs is isolated from the SDN, which creates routing inflexibility, flow imbalance and choke points in the network as the controller remains oblivious to the number, capacity and placement of NFs. Moreover, a NF may modify packets in the middle, which makes flow identification at a SDN switch challenging. In this paper, we postulate native NFs within the SDN data plane, where the same logical controller controls both network services and routing. This is enabled by extending SDN to support stateful flow handling based on higher layers in the packet beyond layers 2-4. As a result, NF instances can be chained on demand, directly on the data plane. We present an implementation of this architecture based on Open vSwitch, and show that it enables popular NFs effectively using detailed evaluation and comparison with other alternative solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationINFOCOM 2017 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781509053360
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017
Event2017 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2017 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: May 1 2017May 4 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Other2017 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT This research was supported in part by NSF grants CNS-1411636, CNS-1618339 and CNS-1617729, DTRA grant HDTRA1-14-1-0040 and DoD ARO MURI Award W911NF-12-1-0385.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IEEE.


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