A General Approach to Generate Test Packets With Network Configurations

IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems(2023)

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The correctness and reliability of modern networks are often the greatest concerns. A myriad network events like software update, device crash and resource exhaustion, inevitably lead to liveness errors on data plane. This paper focuses on fault detection of the network data plane using test packets. Existing test packet generation techniques are limited in two aspects: i) it is difficult to collect the input data plane snapshot through SNMP or terminals ii) it may rise false negatives due to inconsistent snapshot. In this paper, we propose a new framework, SWIFT, that automatically generates test packets with network configurations. SWIFT minimizes the number of test packets by allowing a packet to go through multiple links or interfaces. For network updates, SWIFT updates test packets in an incremental way to revalidate the network. We evaluate its performance using hundreds of benchmark network configurations. The results show that it takes few seconds to generate test packets to exercise all links and interfaces, and updates the test packets in few seconds for configuration changes. We also deployed a SWIFT prototype in a university network, and successfully detected many network outages.
Network Configurations,Abstract Representation,Test Packets,Network Reliability,Network Management
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