[talks] 3pm talk today on enterprise networks in CS 402

Jennifer Rexford jrex at CS.Princeton.EDU
Thu Mar 26 08:44:14 EDT 2009

Professor Aditya Akella is visiting from U. Wisconsin-Madison on 
Thursday March 26, and giving a talk at 3-4pm in room 402 -- see title 
and abstract below. 

Speaker: Aditya Akella, U. Wisconsin-Madison
Title: Managing the Complexity of Modern Enterprise Networks
Place/time: 3-4pm Thu Mar 26 in CS 402


Operator interviews and anecdotal evidence suggest that an operator's
ability to manage a network decreases as the network becomes more
complex. Today, there is no way to quantify how complex a network's
design is, nor how complexity may impact network management
activities. In this talk, I will present a suite of "complexity
models" that describe the routing design and configuration of a
network in a succinct fashion, abstracting away details of the
underlying configuration languages. Our models, and the complexity
metrics arising from them, capture the difficulty of configuring
control and data plane behaviors on routers.  They also measure the
inherent complexity of the reachability constraints that a network
implements via its routing design. Our models simplify network design
and management by facilitating comparison between alternative designs
for a network.

We tested our models on seven networks, including four universities
and three enterprises. We validated the results through systematic
interviews with the operators of five of the networks. We found the
metrics to be predictive of the issues operators face when
reconfiguring their networks. A surprising result of our study was
uncovering the reasons for operators choosing the designs they did.

Given the frequency with which configuration errors are responsible
for major outages, we believe that creating techniques to quantify the
complexity of a network's design is an important first step to
reducing that complexity. In databases, software engineering and other
fields, metrics and benchmarks have driven the direction of the field
by defining what is desirable and what is not. In proposing these
metrics, we hope to start a similar conversation for network design.

I will end the talk with a brief description of our recent work on WAN

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