On Scalable Service Function Chaining With O(1) Flowtable Entries

Tzuming Huang National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Yi Ren University of East Anglia, United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Kate Chingju Lin National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Yuchee Tseng National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan


The emergence of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) enables flexible and agile service function chaining in a Software Defined Network (SDN). While this virtualization technology efficiently offers customization capability, it however comes with a cost of consuming precious TCAM resources. Due to this, the number of service chains that an SDN can support is limited by the flowtable size of a switch. To break this limitation, this paper presents CRT-Chain, a service chain forwarding protocol that requires only constant flowtable entries, regardless of the number of service chain requests. The core of CRT-Chain is an encoding mechanism that leverages Chinese Remainder Theorem (CRT) to compress the forwarding information into small labels. A switch does not need to insert forwarding rules for every service chain request, but only needs to conduct very simple modular arithmetic to extract the forwarding rules directly from CRT-Chain's labels attached in the header. We further incorporate prime reuse and path segmentation in CRT-Chain to reduce the header size and, hence, save bandwidth consumption. Our evaluation results show that, when a chain consists of no more than 5 functions, CRT-Chain actually generates a header smaller than the legacy 32-bit header defined in IETF. By enabling prime reuse and segmentation, CRT-Chain further reduces the total signaling overhead to a level lower than the conventional scheme, showing that CRT-Chain not only enables scalable flowtable-free chaining but also improves network efficiency.

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