2019 Volume E102.D Issue 11 Pages 2184-2194
Many studies have revealed that the performance of software-based Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) is insufficient for mission-critical networks. Scaling-out approaches, such as auto-scaling of VNFs, could handle a huge amount of traffic; however, the exponential traffic growth confronts us the limitations of both expandability of physical resources and complexity of their management. In this paper, we propose a fast datapath processing method called Packet Aggregation Flow (PA-Flow) that is based on hop-by-hop packet aggregation for more efficient Service Function Chaining (SFC). PA-Flow extends a notion of existing intra-node packet aggregation toward network-wide packet aggregation, and we introduce following three novel features. First, packet I/O overheads at intermediate network devices including NFV-nodes are mitigated by reduction of packet amount. Second, aggregated packets are further aggregated as going through the service chain in a hop-by-hop manner. Finally, next-hop aware packet aggregation is realized using OpenFlow-based flow tables. PA-Flow is designed to be available with various VNF forms (e.g. VM/container/baremetal-based) and virtual I/O technologies (e.g. vhost-user/SR-IOV), and its implementation does not bring noticeable delay for aggregation. We conducted two evaluations: (i) a baseline evaluation for understanding fundamental performance characteristics of PA-Flow (ii) a simulation-based SFC evaluation for proving PA-Flow's effect in a realistic environment. The results showed that throughput of short packet forwarding was improved by 4 times. Moreover, the total number of packets was reduced by 93% in a large-scale SFC.