P4toNFV: Offloading from P4 switches to NFV in programmable data planes

Adrian Pekar*, Laszlo A. Makara, Yuan Cheng Lai, Ying Dar Lin, Winston Seah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

P4 combines the benefits of hardware-based networking with the adaptability of software-based network operations. However, when faced with intricate network functions, P4 switches reveal constraints in memory and processing primitives. To address these, we advocate offloading traffic demanding intricate processing from the programmable data plane to network function virtualization (NFV). By leveraging this approach, P4 switches handle the core data plane, ensuring maximum performance, whereas virtualized network functions (VNF) cater to the intricate processing. Central to our research is the optimization of this offloading process, specifically considering delay constraints. We developed an analytical model that examines a P4 switch overseen by an SDN controller, integrating an offloading capability to NFV. The principal objective was to determine an offloading rate that minimizes packet processing delay. To this end, we employed a Bounded method, an advancement from Brent's method, to determine this optimal rate. The findings indicate that offloading approximately 66% of packets to the VNF achieves the lowest total delay, registering at 0.1505 (Formula presented.) s. This strategy of optimal offloading can notably reduce the system's average delay as the demand for network functions increases. The optimization technique we adopted exhibited rapid convergence in our experiments, reflecting the method's efficacy. Furthermore, a rigorous parametric sensitivity analysis spanning no offloading, full offloading, and optimal offloading strategies underscores that optimal offloading to NFV consistently augments system performance, particularly in terms of delay reduction. Conclusively, our study furnishes valuable insights into offloading strategies, augmenting the narrative on resource allocation in both PNFs and VNFs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5687
JournalInternational Journal of Communication Systems
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • P4 switch
  • network function virtualization
  • software-defined networking

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