P4-based VNF and Micro-VNF Chaining for Servers With SmartNICs

David George

Commodity servers equipped with SmartNICs are being used as platforms for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). The network traffic processing required by a specific use case is frequently expressed by forming a chain of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs). This demonstration illustrates that VNFs in the chain can be hosted on the server CPU or on the SmartNIC. It furthermore illustrates that VNFs can be decomposed into components called Micro-VNFs, with the components again being hosted on the server CPU and/or the SmartNIC. A P4 program (compiled to native code running on the SmartNIC) defines the overall semantics of the datapath within SmartNIC equipped server and expresses how VNFs and Micro-VNFs should be composed within this platform. We show how mechanisms like tunnels and service headers programmed using P4 are employed to establish the VNF service chain across multiple network nodes.

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