Close to 1/3 of all main track presentation at SIGCOMM 2015 in London, August 18-20, addressed challenges and experiences related to data centres. Software Defined Networking was often the actual or assumed underlying technology.

All SIGCOMM 2015 papers are available online  via the conference web site.

A general impression is that most accepted work at SIGCOMM is funded by “the big players”, e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Cisco. A majority of work presented reports results from mature research often already deployed in pilot (and even production) infrastructures. Hence few “crazy” new ideas are introduced.

Fortunately the poster sessions did give room for some novel and surprising ideas, among them free space optics based intra-data centre networks with physical multicast capabilities.

This post summarises a selection of the papers presented.

  • Best paper award:  Stefano Vissicchio et al from UCLouvain presented their SDN concept added on top of a link-state routed network. A central controller introduce fake nodes by communicating tailored link state announcements to routers in the network, and enable traffic engineering on a source-destination level. If the controller fails, the system default back to standard link-state behaviour.
  • Keynote:  Albert Greenberg from Microsoft explained how the Azure infrastructure is running close to 100% on SDN technology. 40Gbps 4 level clos networks interconnects servers in data centres. Data centre resources are now applied to operate the data centre, e.g. fairly intense active monitoring of end-to-end paths by running traffic generators and sinks.
  • Policy languages: Prakash et al from University of Wisconsin-Madison presented a graph based system for better policy conflict managements. Set theory is applied. It seems to scale well, but results are none-deterministic.
  • Resource management: Several papers presented techniques to optimize placement and access to data centre resource. Scheduling challenges were addressed. Google gave a historical summary of their data centre activities explaining how and what they have learned is important to be able to scale up their installations.
  • Wireless aspects: A set of papers look into the utilizing backscatter, i.e. superimposing signals on top of reflected or transit waves from other sources,  in new ways.  High accuracy positioning with off-the-shelf  wifi equipment was also address by several groups.
  • Video streaming: Work on optimization of content placement in content delivery networks (CDNs) where presented, as well as advanced control theory driven rate control in video players
  • Physical internet: Ramakrishnan Durairajan et al from University of Wisconsin – Madison presented work on mapping physical infrastructure of US based ISPs. Results show that ducts are shared frequently and as many as 80% share at least one duct. Hence care is needed to ensure true resilience when multi-homing to different ISPs.

Otto’s personal notes are available on request.

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