Infrastructure Support for Accessing Network Services in Dynamic Network Environments
Candidate: Xiaodong Fu
Advisor: Vijay Karamcheti

Abstract

Despite increases in network bandwidth, accessing network services across a wide area network still remains a challenging task. The difficulty mainly comes from the heterogeneous and constantly changing network environment, which usually causes undesirable user experience for network-oblivious applications.

A promising approach to address this is to provide network awareness in communication paths. While several such path-based infrastructures have been proposed, the network awareness provided by them is rather limited. Many challenging problems remain, in particular: (1) how to automatically create effective network paths whose performance is optimized for encountered network conditions, (2) how to dynamically reconfigure such paths when network conditions change, and (3) how to manage and distribute network resources among different paths and between different network regions. Furthermore, there is poor understanding of the benefits of using the path-based approach over other alternatives.

This dissertation describes solutions for these problems, built into a programmable network infrastructure called Composable Adaptive Network Services (CANS). The CANS infrastructure provides applications with network-aware communication paths that are automatically created and dynamically modified. CANS highlights four key mechanisms: (1) a high-level integrated type-based specification of components and network resources; (2) automatic path creation strategies; (3) system support for low-overhead path reconfiguration; and (4) distributed strategies for managing and allocating network resources.

We evaluate these mechanisms using experiments with typical applications running in the CANS infrastructure, and extensive simulation on a large scale network topology to compare with other alternatives. Experimental results validate the effectiveness of our approach, verifying that (1) the path-based approach provides the best and the most robust performance under a wide range of network configurations as compared to end-point or proxy-based alternatives; (2) automatic generation of network-aware paths is feasible and provides considerable performance advantages, requiring only minimal input from applications; (3) path reconfiguration strategies ensure continuous adaptation and provide desirable adaptation behaviors by using automatically generated paths; (4) both run-time overhead and reconfiguration time of CANS paths are negligible for most applications; (5) the resource management and allocation strategies allow effective setting up shared resource pools in the network and sharing resources among paths.