February 16, 2017

ElastiCon: An Elastic Distributed SDN Controller

  • Dixit A.
  • Hao F.
  • Kompella R.
  • Lakshman T.
  • Mukherjee S.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) has become a popular paradigm for centralized control in many modern networking scenarios such as data centers and cloud. For large data centers hosting many hundreds of thousands of servers, there are few thousands of switches that need to be managed in a centralized fashion, which cannot be done using a single controller node. Previous works have proposed distributed controller architectures to address scalability issues. A key limitation of these works, however, is that the mapping between a switch and a controller is statically configured, which may result in uneven load distribution among the controllers as traffic conditions change dynamically. To address this problem, we propose ElastiCon, an elastic distributed controller architecture in which the controller pool is dynamically grown or shrunk according to traffic conditions. To address the load imbalance caused due to spatial and temporal variations in the traffic conditions, ElastiCon automatically balances the load across controllers thus ensuring good performance at all times irrespective of the traffic dynamics. We propose a novel switch migration protocol for enabling such load shifting, which conforms with the Openflow standard. We further design the algorithms for controller load balancing and elasticity. We also build a prototype of ElastiCon and evaluate it extensively to demonstrate the efficacy of our design.

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