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Spawning Networks

Published on Nov 21, 2015


The ability to rapidly create, deploy, and manage new network services in response to user demands presents a significant challenge to the research community and is a key factor driving the development of programmable networks.

Existing network architectures such as the Internet, mobile, telephone, and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) exhibit two key limitations that prevent us from meeting this challenge:

" Lack of intrinsic architectural flexibility in adapting to new user needs and requirements

" Lack of automation of the process of realization and deployment of new and distinct network architectures

In what follows we make a number of observations about the limitations encountered when designing and deploying network architectures. First, current network architectures are deployed on top of a multitude of networking technologies such as land-based, wireless, mobile, and satellite for a bewildering array of voice, video, and data applications. Since these architectures offer a very limited capability to match the many environments and applications, the deployment of these architectures has predictably met with various degrees of success.

Tremendous difficulties arise, for example, because of the inability of TCP to match the high loss rate encountered in wireless networks or for mobile IP to provide fast handoff capabilities with low loss rates to mobile devices. Protocols other than mobile IP and TCP operating in wireless access networks might help, but their implementation is difficult to realize.

Second, the interface between the network and the service architecture responsible for basic communication services (e.g., connection setup procedures in ATM and telephone networks) is rigidly defined and cannot be replaced, modified, or supplemented. In other cases, such as the Internet, end user connectivity abstractions provide little support for quality of service (QoS) guarantees and accounting for usage of network resources (billing). Third, the creation and deployment of network architecture is a manual, time-consuming, and costly process.

In response to these limitations, we argue that there is a need to propose, investigate, and evaluate alternative network architectures to the existing ones (e.g., IP, ATM, mobile). This challenge goes beyond the proposal for yet experimental network architecture.

Rather, it calls for new approaches to the way we design, develop, deploy, observe, and analyze new network architectures in response to future needs and requirements. We believe that the design, deployment, architecting, and management of new network architectures should be automated and built on a foundation of spawning networks, a new class of open programmable networks.

We describe the process of automating the creation and deployment of new network architectures as spawning. The term spawning finds a parallel with an operating system spawning a child process. By spawning a process the operating system creates a copy of the calling process. The calling process is known as the parent process and the new process as the child process. Notably, the child process inherits its parent's attributes, typically executing on the same hardware (i.e., the same processor). We envision spawning networks as having the capability to spawn not processes but complex network architectures. Spawning networks support the deployment of programmable virtual networks.

We call a virtual network installed on top of a set of network resources a parent virtual network. We propose the realization of parent virtual networks with the capability of creating child virtual networks operating on a subset of network resources and topology, as illustrated in Fig. 1. . For example, part of an access network to a wired network might be redeployed as a Pico cellular virtual network that supports fast handoff (e.g., by spawning a Cellular IP virtual network), as illustrated in Fig. 1.

In this case the access network is the parent and the Cellular IP network the child. We describe a framework for spawning networks based on the design of the Genesis Kernel, a virtual network operating system capable of automating a virtual network life cycle process; that is, profiling, spawning, architecting, and managing programmable network architectures on demand

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