Toward Synthesis of Network Updates

Andrew Noyes, Todd Warszawski, Pavol Černý, Nate Foster

Updates to network configurations are notoriously difficult to implement correctly. Even if the old and new configurations are correct, the update process can introduce transient errors such as forwarding loops, dropped packets, and access control violations. The key factor that makes updates difficult to implement is that networks are distributed systems with hundreds or even thousands of nodes, but updates must be rolled out one node at a time. In networks today, the task of determining a correct sequence of updates is usually done manually -- a tedious and error-prone process for network operators. This paper presents a new tool for synthesizing network updates automatically. The tool generates efficient updates that are guaranteed to respect invariants specified by the operator. It works by navigating through the (restricted) space of possible solutions, learning from counterexamples to improve scalability and optimize performance. We have implemented our tool in OCaml, and conducted experiments showing that it scales to networks with a thousand switches and tens of switches updating.

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