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Title: MiddleNet: A High-Performance, Lightweight, Unified NFV and Middlebox Framework
Traditional network resident functions (e.g., firewalls, network address translation) and middleboxes (caches, load balancers) have moved from purpose-built appliances to software-based components. However, L2/L3 network functions (NFs) are being implemented on Network Function Virtualization (NFV) platforms that extensively exploit kernel-bypass technology. They often use DPDK for zero-copy delivery and high performance. On the other hand, L4/L7 middleboxes, which usually require full network protocol stack support, take advantage of a full-fledged kernel-based system with a greater emphasis on functionality. Thus, L2/L3 NFs and middleboxes continue to be handled by distinct platforms on different nodes.This paper proposes MiddleNet that seeks to overcome this dichotomy by developing a unified network resident function framework that supports L2/L3 NFs and L4/L7 middleboxes. MiddleNet supports function chains that are essential in both NFV and middlebox environments. MiddleNet uses DPDK for zero-copy packet delivery without interrupt-based processing, to enable the ‘bump-in-the-wire’ L2/L3 processing performance required of NFV. To support L4/L7 middlebox functionality, MiddleNet utilizes a consolidated, kernel-based protocol stack processing, avoiding a dedicated protocol stack for each function. MiddleNet fully exploits the event-driven capabilities provided by the extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) and seamlessly integrates it with shared memory for high-performance communication in L4/L7 middlebox function chains. The overheads for MiddleNet are strictly load-proportional, without needing the dedicated CPU cores of DPDK-based approaches. MiddleNet supports flow-dependent packet processing by leveraging Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) to dynamically select packet processing needed (Layer 2 to Layer 7). Our experimental results show that MiddleNet can achieve high performance in such a unified environment.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1823270 1763929
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2022 IEEE 8th International Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
180 to 188
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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