Exerting Fine-Grained Path Control over Legacy Switches in Hybrid Networks

Date of Submission: 
September 14, 2016
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Software-defined networking (SDN) provides fine-grained network control and monitoring that simplifies network management. Unfortunately, upgrading existing enterprise networks, comprised of numerous “legacy” switches, to SDN is often cost-prohibitive. We argue that it is possible to achieve most of the benefits of a fully deployed SDN at a fraction of the cost by strategically replacing only few legacy switches with – or introducing a few – new SDN-capable switches in a legacy network, thus creating a hybrid network. We present Magneto, a unified network controller that exerts SDN-like, fine-grained path control over both OpenFlow and legacy switches in hybrid networks. Magneto i) introduces magnet MAC addresses and dynamically updates IP-to-magnet MAC mappings at hosts via gratuitous ARP messages for visibility and routing control; and ii) uses the ability of SDN switches to send “custom” packets into the data plane to manipulate legacy switches into updating forwarding entries with magnet MAC addresses for enhanced routing flexibility. Our evaluations on a lab testbed and through extensive simulations on large enterprise network topologies show that Magneto is able to achieve full control over routing when only 20% of network switches are programmable, with negligible computation and latency overhead.