Network Programmability: A Holistic Perspective
By: Prof. Giuseppe Bianchi,
University of Roma Tor Vergata, Italy
In the 2011 Open Networking Summit, a leading scientist in the Software Defined Networking (SDN) arena delivered a keynote with a bold title: “the Future of Networking, and the Past of Protocols”. The whole talk was about the importance of finding the “right” platform-independent abstractions so as to get rid of the “a new protocol per problem” era. While recognizing the paramount importance of the “centralized control side” of the SDN paradigm, we nevertheless believe that the today’s de facto reliance of scarcely expressive device-level programming interfaces might severely hinder any attempt to emerge with the above ultimate vision of platform agnostic programmable protocols. Backed up by recent promising results in two widely different networking fields (wireless and wired networks), we promote the usage of eXtended Finite State Machines (XFSM) as an extremely expressive and powerful abstraction to describe complex stateful behavior such as that mandated by protocol design, while retaining platform independency and portability across different network devices and nodes. We specifically discuss how such an XFSM abstraction permits to address portable protocol design in the wireless domain, and we discuss how such a very same (!) abstraction appears viable also as node-level behavioral forwarding specification for wired network switches (and, surprisingly, it appears also backward compatible with the therein state of the art forwarding abstractions such as OpenFlow). Is such recurrence of a same abstraction in widely different domains just a case, or it perhaps implies the possibility to foster a holistic approach to network programmability, irrespective of the networking domain?
About the Speaker
Dr. Giuseppe Bianchi is Full Professor of Networking at the School of Engineering, University of Roma Tor Vergata since January 2007, and member of the CNIT executive board since 2014. His research activity includes WLAN, privacy and security, traffic control, and is documented in about 200 peer-reviewed international journal and conference papers, having received more than 11.000 citations (source scholar.google.com).
He has carried out pioneering research work on WLAN modelling and assessment, and is currently interested in network programmability in both wireless and wired domains. He has been general or technical co-chair for several major conferences (IEEE INFOCOM 2014, ACM CoNext 2015, IEEE WoWMoM 2007 and 2010, track chair at IEEE PIMRC 2008, etc) and wireless specific workshops, (ACM WMI 2001, ACM WMASH 2003 and 2004, ACM WinTech 2011, ACM SRIF 2013, etc).
G. Bianchi has held general or technical coordination roles in several European projects (FP6-DISCREET, FP7-FLAVIA, FP7-PRISM, FP7-DEMONS, H2020-BEBA, H2020-SCISSOR). He is area editor for IEEE transactions on wireless communications, and Editor for Elsevier Computer Communications.