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Versions: 00 01

Network Working Group                                         M. Bagnulo
Internet-Draft                                                      UC3M
Intended status: Informational                                 D. Dolson
Expires: September 18, 2016                                     Sandvine
                                                          March 17, 2016


              NFVI PoP Network Topology: Problem Statement
                    draft-bagnulo-nfvrg-topology-01

Abstract

   This documents describes considerations for the design of the
   interconnection network of an NFVI PoP.

Status of This Memo

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Considerations for the design of the NFVI PoP network
       topology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  External links  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  Number of servers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.3.  Traffic patterns  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.3.1.  Macroscopic behaviour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.3.2.  Traffic pattern within the PoP  . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.4.  Technological considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.4.1.  Direct and Indirect networks  . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.4.2.  SFC technology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.4.3.  Network Virtualization Technology . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.4.4.  Software or Hardware Switching  . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   3.  Design goals  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.1.  Effective load  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.2.  Latency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.3.  Scalability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.4.  Fault Tolerance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.5.  Cost  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.6.  Backward compatibility  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   4.  Topologies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   5.  Security considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   6.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   7.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   8.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

1.  Introduction

   An NFVI PoP is defined as a "single geographic location where a
   number of NFVI-Nodes are sited" where an NFVI-Node is "a physical
   device deployed and managed as a single entity providing the NFVI
   functions required to support the execution environment for VNFs"
   [ETSI_GS_NFV-INF_001].  In other words, an NFVI PoP is the premises
   where the processing, storage and networking resources (i.e., servers
   and switches) used to execute the network virtual functions (VNFs)
   are deployed.  The servers and switches in a NFVI PoP will be
   interconnected forming the NFVI PoP interconnection network.  The
   goal of this document is to explore the different design
   considerations for the NFI PoP interconnection network topology,
   including design goals and constrains.

   The NFVI PoP is essentially a data center, and the NFVI PoP
   interconnection network is essentially a data center network.  As
   such it is only natural to use the current state of the art in data




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   center networking as a starting point for the design of the NFVI PoP
   network.

2.  Considerations for the design of the NFVI PoP network topology

   This section describes different pieces of information that are
   relevant input for the design of the NFVI PoP network topology.  In
   some cases, the information is known (and sometimes ready available),
   while in other cases, the information is not known at this stage.

2.1.  External links

   The NFVI PoP is part of the operator's infrastructure and as such it
   is connected to the rest of the operator's network.  Information
   about the number of links and their respective capacity is naturally
   a required in order to properly design the NFVI PoP topology.
   Different types of PoPs have different number of links with different
   capacity to connect to the rest of the network.  In particular, the
   so-called "local PoPs" that connect the links from end users (either
   DSL lines or FTTH or else) and also connect to the rest of the
   operator's network.  The "regional" PoPs or "regional data centers"
   have links to the "local PoPs" and to other "regional PoPs" and other
   parts of the operator's infrastructure.

   For instance, a local PoP in a DSL access network can have between
   15.000 and 150.000 DSL lines with speeds between 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps
   and tens of links to the core network of the operator with links
   between 20 Gbps and 80 Gbps.

   It would be useful to confirm these numbers and to have information
   about other types of PoPs.

2.2.  Number of servers

   While knowing the exact number of servers is not required to design
   the PoP network topology, knowing the order of the number of servers
   is at least useful.  If the resulting topology have tens of servers,
   then the topology is likely to be be very simple (e.g., a tree-like
   topology with access/aggregation/core switches may be suitable).  On
   the other hand, if the topology should encompass several hundreds of
   servers of even a few thousands of servers, then the problem is more
   challenging as we are likely to reach the available capacity of
   existing switches and more sophisticated topologies may be required.

   The number of servers on a PoP depends on several factors, including
   the number and capacity of external links (i.e., the offered load to
   the PoP), the number and type of Virtual Network Functions that will
   be provided by the PoP, the performance of the VNF implementations



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   and the number and length of service function chains that will be
   provided.

   The number of external links is discussed in the previous section.
   The number and capacity of the external links is relevant to
   determine the number of servers because they will carry the load
   offered to the PoP.  In other words, traffic coming through the
   external links will require processing by the different VNF hosted in
   the servers, influencing the number of servers needed.

   The number of different VFNs provided in the PoP as well as the
   number and length of service functions chains provided in the PoP
   will also influence the number of servers required in the PoP.  The
   more demanding the VNFs provided, the more servers will be needed to
   provide it and the longer the service function chain a higher number
   of servers will be required to support it.

   Finally, the performance of the NFV implementations also affects the
   number of servers required in a PoP.  In particular, some VNF
   implementations are capable of processing at line speed, while other
   implementations of other VNFs are not capable of that, requiring
   additional servers to provide the VNF for the same line speed.  While
   there is some initial work assessing the performance of the different
   VNFs (e.g., [swBRAS]), still more work is needed to have a full
   picture for the different VNFs at different line speeds.

   Overall, we need to have a rough estimate of the range of the number
   servers that will be part of the PoP network in order to provide a
   successful design and we need to take into account the aforementioned
   considerations to obtain it.

2.3.  Traffic patterns

   The pattern of the expected traffic of the NFVI PoP network is of
   course essential to properly design the network topology.  In this
   section we describe different characteristics of the traffic pattern
   that we believe are relevant and that it would be useful to have
   information about.

2.3.1.  Macroscopic behaviour

   There are essentially 4 types of traffic direction within a NVFI PoP
   network, namely, cross-through traffic, intra-PoP traffic, PoP-
   generated traffic and PoP-terminated traffic, as depicted in
   Figure 1.






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           external   +---------------------------------+    external
            links     |          NFVI PoP               |     links
      ----------------|                                 |---------------
      ----------------|                                 |---------------
       >-->----->----->--cross-through traffic----->---->------>----->
      ----------------|                                 |---------------
       >---->----->----->PoP-terminated traffic         |
      ----------------|                                 |---------------
      ----------------|       PoP-generated traffic----->----->----->
      ----------------|                                 |---------------
                      |   <----Intra-PoP traffic--->    |
                      +---------------------------------+

              Figure 1: Types of traffic in NFVI PoP network

   The cross-through traffic is the traffic that reaches the PoP through
   an external link, it is processed by a service function chain (i.e.,
   it is processed by a number of VNFs inside the PoP) and then is
   forwarded through an external link.  Processing such type of traffic
   is one of the main purposes of the PoP since the PoP is part of the
   operator's infrastructure whose main purpose is to forward user's
   traffic.

   The PoP-generated traffic is generated by VNFs located within the
   PoP.  An example of such VNF would be a cache located inside the PoP
   which serves content to users.  Similarly, PoP-terminated traffic is
   external traffic that is terminated by one VNF located inside the PoP
   for example a firewall.

   Finally, Intra-PoP traffic is traffic generated and terminated inside
   the PoP that never leaves the PoP.  This traffic includes much of the
   management traffic, deploying and moving virtual machines and VNFs
   across different servers and other signaling traffic (e.g., the one
   associated with voice calls).

   In order to properly design the PoP network topology, it is relevant
   to know the distribution of the expected traffic in these categories.

2.3.2.  Traffic pattern within the PoP

   The traffic within the PoP will be composed of essentially two types
   of traffic:

   1.  The traffic served by the PoP.  This is the traffic coming from
       and/or going to external links and that should traverse a number
       of servers where the different VNFs are placed.  This includes
       the cross-through traffic, the PoP-generated traffic and the PoP-
       terminated traffic.



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   2.  The operation and management traffic that includes all the
       traffic resulting from the management of the virtual machines and
       the VNFs, as well as signaling traffic required to provides the
       VNFs.  This is the Intra-PoP traffic.

   The traffic pattern of the traffic served by the PoP is basically
   determined by the location of the input link, the location of the
   output link and the mapping of the service function chain to servers.

2.3.2.1.  Mapping of service function chains to servers

   There are multiple possible strategies to deploy VNFs and SFCs in
   servers.

   o  Parallel SFC deployment strategy: One possible approach is to
      deploy all the VNFs of a given service function chain in a single
      server and deploy as many of these servers in parallel in order to
      server the different flows.  When more flows arrive to the PoP,
      more servers are used in parallel.

   o  Sequential SFC deployment strategy: Another possible approach
      would be to deploy each VNF in a different server and have one (or
      more) servers dedicated to process this particular VNF for all the
      flows of the PoP.  When the number of flows increases, the number
      of servers providing each VNF is also increased.

   o  Hybrid strategy: it is also possible to use a hybrid strategy,
      where several VNFs of the SFC are deployed together in a server
      and other VNFs of the SFC are deployed in separated servers.

   There are many factors that influence this decision, including the
   performance of the implementation of the VNF (maybe the VNF is too
   demanding to be executed with other VNFs in the same server) or
   licensing conditions (maybe some VNF licenses are based on the number
   of servers deployed, while maybe others depend on the number of users
   served, or even the time the VNF is being executed).

   In any case, to design the PoP topology it would be relevant to know:

      The number of servers that the traffic served by the PoP will
      traverse (which is determined by the length of the SFCs and the
      deployment strategy of SFCs in servers).

      The number of different SFCs that will be simultaneously available
      in the PoP at any point in time.  At any point in time, different
      flows coming from a particular external link can be served by one
      or more different SFCs.  These SFCs can be mapped to different
      sequences of servers.  Depending on this, different flows coming



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      from any external links will have to traverse different sequences
      of servers, affecting the Intra-PoP traffic pattern.

2.3.2.2.  Locality

   There are two locality aspects that are affect the pattern of the
   traffic served by the PoP.  First, whether the servers providing the
   different VNFs of each SFC can be assumed to be topologically close
   (e.g., in the same rack).  If the SFCs that process the majority of
   the flows can be assumed to be topologically close, topologies that
   exploit locality can be useful.

   The other locality related aspect that affects the topology design is
   the distribution of output links of the traffic arriving through the
   different input links.  Consider the case of a Local PoP, which has
   links connecting to users (DSL, FTTH, etc) and links connecting to
   the rest of the provider's network.  Let's call the first type of
   links user's links and the second type of links, core links.  It is
   reasonable to assume that most of the traffic coming from a user's
   link will go to a core link and vice-versa.  We can expect that the
   traffic between two user's links will be low and the same for the
   traffic between two core links.  If we now consider the case of a
   regional PoP, it is not so clear we can make such assumption about
   the traffic between links.  In case this assumption can be made, it
   would be possible to deign the topology to pair user's link with core
   link to optimize the transit between them.

2.3.2.3.  Churn

   There is also the question about how often the provided SFCs will
   change and frequently VNFs and virtual machines will be deployed in
   servers.  This affects the amount of churn traffic in the PoP.  There
   may be more to it...?

2.3.2.4.  Growth

   Another relevant aspect is the expected growth in terms of offered
   load to the PoP and also in terms of VNFs in the PoP.  We should
   understand if the capacity of the PoP is expected to increase
   linearly or exponentially in time.  Similarly, we need to understand
   if the number of VNFs and the length of the SFCs will remain more or
   less constant or will evolve.  If does evolve, which is the expected
   pace.  The reason for this is that different topologies support
   growth in different manners so depending on the expectation in this
   aspects, different topologies may be more or less suitable.






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2.4.  Technological considerations

2.4.1.  Direct and Indirect networks

   A network is called an Indirect network there are two types of nodes,
   nodes that source/sink traffic and nodes that forward traffic.  A
   network is called a Direct network if every node plays both roles.
   Usually data center networks are Indirect networks, with switches
   that forward packets and servers that source/sink packets.  While
   there have are proposals that use both switches are servers to
   forward packets (e.g., [BCube]), the main concern expressed against
   them is that the resources available in the servers should be used to
   execute applications (which is the final goal of the data center)
   rather than be used in forwarding packets.

   In the case of an NFVI PoP network, the actual purpose of the servers
   is in many cases to forward packets through the VNFs provided by the
   server, so it may make perfect sense to use servers to forward
   packets.  From this perspective, either direct networks or networks
   that use both switches and servers to forward packets may be
   attractive for NFVI PoPs.

2.4.2.  SFC technology

   Service Function Chaining can be accomplished using the IETF SFC
   protocol [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture] or using a SDN approach, where a
   controller instructs the switches where to forward the different
   flows using Openflow.  The two approaches have a different
   architecture with different components and it is possible that
   different topologies accommodate more naturally the elements of the
   different SFC architectures.

   If using an OpenFlow approach, determine what form the rules take,
   consider when forwarding rules must be dynamically updated due to the
   arrival of new flows, and determine what peak update rate is
   required.  Evaluate the SDN switches against all of these
   requirements.

2.4.3.  Network Virtualization Technology

   Technologies exist to improve performance of NFV functions, including
   PCI-passthrough, SRIOV and NUMA-aware process pinning.  Other
   technologies are likely to become available in the future to offload
   network function.

   Consider selecting infrastructure with these features if the NFV
   functions can utilize them and if the orchestration and control-plane
   infrastructure can configure them optimally.



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   Performance of individual NFV implementations may vary by an order of
   magnitude with or without the hardware features, so PoP planning and
   sizing must include consideration of how the functions fit with the
   hardware and whether the infrastructure can deploy virtual machines
   in a manner that allows the hardware to be used.

2.4.4.  Software or Hardware Switching

   Some network architectures require software switches (such as
   OpenVSwitch), whereas other architectures only require top-of-rack
   and backplane Ethernet switching.

   Although software switches perform very well, they consume processing
   cores.  PoP design must consider how many processor cores are
   required for software switches.

3.  Design goals

   In this section we describe the goals for the design of a NFVI PoP
   network topology.  In broad terms, they include scalability,
   performance, costs, fault tolerance, operation, management and
   backward compatibility

3.1.  Effective load

   A first performance parameter that we should take into account when
   considering different topologies is the effective load supported by
   the network.  The main goal of the NFVI PoP is to forward traffic
   between the different external links connected to the PoP.  The
   performance of the PoP is measured by the traffic it is able to
   forward i.e., the more effective load it manages.  In order to assess
   the effective load supported by the different topologies, we increase
   the offered load coming to the PoP through the different links and we
   measure the effective load that the PoP is able to deliver.

   The effective load supported by a topology is likely to be affected
   by multiple factors, including the the different aspects we described
   in the traffic patterns section Section 2.3 (such as the traffic
   matrix between the different external links, the characteristics of
   the SFCs and so on), the routing inside the PoP, the different
   locality considerations, and the intra-PoP traffic.  Moreover, in
   order for the comparison of two topologies to make sense, they need
   to be "equal" in some other dimension (e.g., cost, number of servers,
   number of links, number of switches or else).

   For example, as a starting point, we can assume a purely random
   traffic matrix, i.e., every packet arriving through an external link
   is forwarded through n random servers in the topology and exits



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   through a randomly picked external link, and assume shortest-path,
   equal cost multi-path routing.  We can compare different topologies
   with the same number N of servers.  We perform the comparison by
   measuring the effective load when increasing the offered load and for
   different values of N and n.  Of course, these conditions may greatly
   differ from the real operation condition, this is why it is useful to
   have information about the items described in section Section 2.

   When performing this evaluation, it is useful to also measure the
   packet loss and to track the occurrences of hot-spots in the
   topology, in order to identify the bottlenecks of the topology which
   may be useful to improve it.

   Related to this, it may be useful to consider the bisection bandwidth
   of the different topologies.

3.2.  Latency

   Another relevant performance indicator is the latency suffered by
   packets while traversing the PoP network.  That is, for a topology of
   N servers, which is the latency for a packet that arrives through an
   external link, traverses n servers and exits through an external
   link.  Since we only care about the latency cause by the topology
   itself (in order to assess the topology) we can measure the "latency"
   as the number of hops that the packet should traverse.

   It is useful to measure the mean latency, but also the maximum
   latency, since an upper bound for the time a packet stays in the PoP
   is also relevant.  Again, the latency/Hop count depends on the
   traffic matrix (i.e., the relation of the input and output links),
   the routing and the different locality aspects, hence it is useful to
   have information about these aspects.  In any case, a purely random
   case as the one described for the effective load measurement could be
   used as a starting point.

   Queuing between software elements can introduce latency, so it is
   important to include extra hops caused by software components (such
   as software switches) that may be required to deliver packets to
   virtual machines from physical interfaces, in contrast to
   technologies (e.g., SRIOV) that allow virtual machines to receive
   traffic directly from network interface cards.

3.3.  Scalability

   Scalability refers to how well the proposed topology supports the
   growth in terms of number of servers, line speed of the servers and
   capacity of the external links. there are some topologies that in
   order to support an increased number of servers require growing some



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   components beyond what is technically feasible (or what is
   economically efficient).  For instance it is well known that tree
   topologies require the core switches to grow in order to support more
   servers, which is not feasible beyond certain point (or it becomes
   very expensive).  That being said, we should consider scalability in
   the range of servers that we expect that a PoP will have to support
   in a reasonable time frame.

   Another dimension to consider is the size of forwarding tables
   required by switches in the network.  E.g., do the switches have
   capacity to learn the required number of MAC addresses?  Some service
   chaining technologies utilize many private Ethernet addresses; is
   there capacity to learn the number that are required?  The same
   reasoning should be applied to whichever types of forwarding tables
   are required, whether IP routing, MPLS, NSH, etc.

   Another aspect somehow related to scalability is how well the
   different topologies support incremental growth.  It is unclear at
   this point which will be the growth pace for the NFVI PoPs.  In other
   words, given that we have a PoP with N servers operational, then next
   time we need to increase the number of servers, will it increase to
   N+1, to 2*N or to N*N?  Different topologies have different grow
   models.  Some support growing lineally indefinitely, others can be
   over-dimensioned in order to support some linear growth, but after a
   given number of additional servers, they need to grow exponentially.

3.4.  Fault Tolerance

   Fault tolerance is of course paramount for an NFVI PoP network.  So,
   when considering topologies, we must consider fault tolerance
   aspects.  We basically care about how well the topology handles link
   failures, switch failures and server failures.

   We can assess the fault tolerance of topology by measuring the
   following parameters of the topology [DC-networks]:

   o  Node-disjoint paths: The minimum of the number of paths that share
      no common intermediate nodes between any arbitrary servers.

   o  Edge disjoint paths: The minimum of the total of number of paths
      that share no common edges between any arbitrary servers.

   o  f-fault tolerance: A network is f-fault tolerant if for any f
      failed components, the network is still connected.

   o  Redundancy level: A network has redundancy level of r if and only
      if after removing any set of r components, it remains connected




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      and exists a set of r+1 components such that after removing them,
      the network is no longer connected.

3.5.  Cost

   The cost of the resulting network is also a relevant aspect to be
   consider.  In order to assess the cost, we can consider the number of
   switches and the number of interfaces in topology for the same number
   of servers.  We should also take into account that type of switches
   required, as we know that the cost of a switch does not scale
   linearly with the number of interfaces of the switch and with the
   speed of the interfaces.

3.6.  Backward compatibility

   Another relevant aspect to consider is compatibility with existent
   hardware.  It is unlikely that operators will throw away all their
   current infrastructure based on specialized hardware and replace it
   for VNFs running in COTS servers.  It is more likely that there will
   be an incremental deployment where some functions will be virtualized
   and some function will be executed in hardware.  It is then important
   to consider how the different topologies support such hybrid
   scenarios.

4.  Topologies

   In this section, we plan to describe different topologies that have
   been proposed for data centers and include some considerations about
   the different design goals described in section Section 3.

5.  Security considerations

   TBD, not sure if there is any.

6.  IANA Considerations

   There are no IANA considerations in this memo.

7.  Acknowledgments

   We would like to thank Bob Briscoe, Pedro Aranda, Diego Lopez, Al
   Morton, Joel Halpern and Costin Raiciu for their input.  Marcelo
   Bagnulo is partially funded by the EU Trilogy 2 project.








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8.  Informative References

   [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture]
              Halpern, J. and C. Pignataro, "Service Function Chaining
              (SFC) Architecture", draft-ietf-sfc-architecture-11 (work
              in progress), July 2015.

   [ETSI_GS_NFV-INF_001]
              ., ETSI., "Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV);
              Infrastructure Overview", NFV ISG, 2015.

   [swBRAS]   Bifulco, R., Dietz, T., Huici, F., Ahmed, M., and J.
              Martins, "Rethinking Access Networks with High Performance
              Virtual Software BRASes", EWSDN 2013, 2013.

   [BCube]    Guo, C., Lu, G., Li, D., Wu, H., and X. Zhang, "BCube: A
              High Performance, Server-centric Network Architecture for
              Modular Data Centers", SIGCOMM 2009, 2009.

   [DC-networks]
              Liu, Y., Muppala, J., Veeraraghavan, M., Lin, D., and M.
              Hamdi, "Data Center Networks - Topologies, Architectures
              and Fault-Tolerance Characteristics", Springer Briefs in
              Computer Science Springer 2013, 2013.

Authors' Addresses

   Marcelo Bagnulo
   Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
   Av. Universidad 30
   Leganes, Madrid  28911
   SPAIN

   Phone: 34 91 6249500
   Email: marcelo@it.uc3m.es
   URI:   http://www.it.uc3m.es


   David Dolson
   Sandvine
   408 Albert Street
   Waterloo, ON  N2L 3V3
   Canada

   Phone: +1 519 880 2400
   Email: ddolson@sandvine.com





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