Visible to the public Biblio

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Soudeh Ghorbani, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brighten Godfrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  2014.  Towards Correct Network Virtualization. ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Software Defined Networks (HotSDN 2014).

In SDN, the underlying infrastructure is usually abstracted for applications that can treat the network as a logical or virtual entity. Commonly, the “mappings” between virtual abstractions and their actual physical implementations are not one-to-one, e.g., a single “big switch” abstract object might be implemented using a distributed set of physical devices. A key question is, what abstractions could be mapped to multiple physical elements while faithfully preserving their native semantics? E.g., can an application developer always expect her abstract “big switch” to act exactly as a physical big switch, despite being implemented using multiple physical switches in reality? We show that the answer to that question is “no” for existing virtual-to-physical mapping techniques: behavior can differ between the virtual “big switch” and the physical network, providing incorrect application-level behavior.

We also show that that those incorrect behaviors occur despite the fact that the most pervasive correctness invariants, such as per-packet consistency, are preserved throughout. These examples demonstrate that for practical notions of correctness, new systems and a new analytical framework are needed. We take the first steps by defining end-to-end correctness, a correctness condition that focuses on applications only, and outline a research vision to obtain virtualization systems with correct virtual to physical mappings.

Won best paper award at HotSDN 2014.

Anduo Wang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Xueyan Mei, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jason Croft, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Matthew Caesar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brighten Godfrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  2016.  Ravel: A Database-Defined Network. ACM SIGCOMM Symposium on Software Defined Networking Research (SOSR 2016).

SDN’s logically centralized control provides an insertion point for programming the network. While it is generally agreed that higherlevel abstractions are needed to make that programming easy, there is little consensus on what are the “right” abstractions. Indeed, as SDN moves beyond its initial specialized deployments to broader use cases, it is likely that network control applications will require diverse abstractions that evolve over time. To this end, we champion a perspective that SDN control fundamentally revolves around data representation. We discard any application-specific structure that might be outgrown by new demands. Instead, we adopt a plain data representation of the entire network — network topology, forwarding, and control applications — and seek a universal data language that allows application programmers to transform the primitive representation into any high-level representations presented to applications or network operators. Driven by this insight, we present a system, Ravel, that implements an entire SDN network control infrastructure within a standard SQL database. In Ravel, network abstractions take the form of user-defined SQL views expressed by SQL queries that can be added on the fly. A key challenge in realizing this approach is to orchestrate multiple simultaneous abstractions that collectively affect the same underlying data. To achieve this, Ravel enhances the database with novel data integration mechanisms that merge the multiple views into a coherent forwarding behavior. Moreover, Ravel is exposed to applications through the one simple, familiar and highly interoperable SQL interface. While this is an ambitious long-term goal, our prototype built on the PostgreSQL database exhibits promising performance even for large scale networks.

Santhosh Prabhu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ali Kheradmand, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brighten Godfrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Matthew Caesar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  2017.  Predicting Network Futures with Plankton. 1st Asia-Pacific Workshop on Networking (APNet).

Recent years have seen significant advancement in the field of formal network verification. Tools have been proposed for offline data plane verification, real-time data plane verification and configuration verification under arbitrary, but static sets of failures. However, due to the fundamental limitation of not treating the network as an evolving system, current verification platforms have significant constraints in terms of scope. In real-world networks, correctness policies may be violated only through a particular combination of environment events and protocol actions, possibly in a non-deterministic sequence. Moreover, correctness specifications themselves may often correlate multiple data plane states, particularly when dynamic data plane elements are present. Tools in existence today are not capable of reasoning about all the possible network events, and all the subsequent execution paths that are enabled by those events. We propose Plankton, a verification platform for identifying undesirable evolutions of networks. By combining symbolic modeling of data plane and control plane with explicit state exploration, Plankton
performs a goal-directed search on a finite-state transition system that captures the behavior of the network as well as the various events that can influence it. In this way, Plankton can automatically find policy violations that can occur due to a sequence of network events, starting from the current state. Initial experiments have successfully predicted scenarios like BGP Wedgies.

Santhosh Prabhu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Gohar Irfan Chaudhry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brighten Godfrey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Matthew Caesar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  2018.  High Coverage Testing of Softwarized Networks. ACM SIGCOMM 2018 Workshop on Security in Softwarized Networks: Prospects and Challenges.

Network operators face a challenge of ensuring correctness as networks grow more complex, in terms of scale and increasingly in terms of diversity of software components. Network-wide verification approaches can spot errors, but assume a simplified abstraction of the functionality of individual network devices, which may deviate from the real implementation. In this paper, we propose a technique for high-coverage testing of end-to-end network correctness using the real software that is deployed in these networks. Our design is effectively a hybrid, using an explicit-state model checker to explore all network-wide execution paths and event orderings, but executing real software as subroutines for each device. We show that this approach can detect correctness issues that would be missed both by existing verification and testing approaches, and a prototype implementation suggests the technique can scale to larger networks
with reasonable performance.