High-Level Abstractions for Programming Network Policies

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Computer and Information Science
network policy
network programming
Computer Sciences
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Yuan, Yifei

The emergence of network programmability enabled by innovations such as active network- ing, SDN and NFV offers tremendous flexibility to program network policies. However, it also poses a new demand to network operators on programming network policies. The motivation of this dissertation is to study the feasibility of using high-level abstractions to simplify the programming of network policies. First, we propose scenario-based programming, a framework that allows network operators to program stateful network policies by describing example behaviors in representative scenarios. Given these scenarios, our scenario-based programming tool NetEgg automatically infers the controller state that needs to be maintained along with the rules to process network events and update state. The NetEgg interpreter can execute the generated policy implementation on top of a centralized controller, but also automatically infers flow-table rules that can be pushed to switches to improve throughput. We study a range of policies considered in the literature and report our experience regarding specifying these policies using scenarios. We evaluate NetEgg based on the computational requirements of our synthesis algorithm as well as the overhead introduced by the generated policy implementation. Our results show that our synthesis algorithm can generate policy implementations in seconds, and the automatically generated policy implementations have performance comparable to their hand-crafted implementations. Our preliminary user study results show that NetEgg was able to reduce the programming time of the policies we studied. Second, we propose NetQRE, a high-level declarative language for programming quantitative network policies that require monitoring a stream of network packets. Based on a novel theoretical foundation of parameterized quantitative regular expressions, NetQRE integrates regular-expression-like pattern matching at flow-level as well as application-level payloads with aggregation operations such as sum and average counts. We describe a compiler for NetQRE that automatically generates an efficient implementation from the specification in NetQRE. Our evaluation results demonstrate that NetQRE is expressive to specify a wide range of quantitative network policies that cannot be naturally specified in other systems. The performance of the generated implementations is comparable with that of the manually-optimized low-level code. NetQRE can be deployed in different settings. Our proof-of-concept deployment shows that NetQRE can provide timely enforcement of quantitative network policies.

Rajeev Alur
Boon T. Loo
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