A characterisation of verification tools for software defined networks

Abstract

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a new paradigm to introduce intelligence in communication networks through centralised programming. SDN separates data and control plane with two main components, the programmable switches (data plane) and the central controller where network applications are executed. This highly programmable and flexible network introduces many challenges from the point of view of reliability (or robustness), and operators need to ensure the same level of confidence as in previous less flexible deployments. This paper provides a first study of the current verification tools used to analyse different properties of SDNs before deployment and/or during the exploitation of the network. Most of these tools offer some kind of automatic verification, supported by algorithms based on formal methods, but they do not differentiate between fixed and mobile/wireless networks. In the paper, we provide a number of classifications of the tools to make this selection easier for potential users, and we also identify promising research areas where more effort needs to be made.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    NICE is available at https://code.google.com/archive/p/nice-of/.

  2. 2.

    Hassel is available at https://bitbucket.org/peymank/hassel-public/src.

  3. 3.

    The implementation and invariant examples are available online at http://people.csail.mit.edu/shachari/.

  4. 4.

    The prototype tool can be found at https://github.com/nsg-ethz/SDNRacer

  5. 5.

    Ternary content addressable memory (TCAM) is a fast associative memory which is very common and useful in switches for building IP routing tables.

  6. 6.

    Frenetic family languages and the repository are available at http://www.frenetic-lang.org/.

  7. 7.

    Kinetic tool is available at http://kinetic.noise.gatech.edu/.

  8. 8.

    NetCore code can be downloaded from https://github.com/frenetic-lang/netcore-1.0.

  9. 9.

    The lastest version of FlowLog is available at http://cs.brown.edu/research/plt/dl/flowlog/.

References

  1. 1.

    Abiteboul S, Hull R, Vianu V (eds) (1995) Foundations of databases: the logical level, 1st edn. Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Al-Shaer E, Al-Haj S (2010) Flowchecker: configuration analysis and verification of federated openflow infrastructures. In: Proc of the 3rd ACM workshop on assurable and usable security configuration, ACM, New York, NY, USA, SafeConfig ’10, pp 37–44. doi:10.1145/1866898.1866905

  3. 3.

    Al-Shaer E, Alsaleh MN (2011) Configchecker: a tool for comprehensive security configuration analytics. In: Configuration analytics and automation (SAFECONFIG), 2011 4th symposium on, IEEE, Arlington, VA, USA, pp 1–2. doi:10.1109/SafeConfig.2011.6111667

  4. 4.

    Baldoni G, Melita M, Micalizzi S, Rametta C, Schembra G, Vassallo A (2016) Video broadcasting services over sdn-nfv enabled networks: a prototype. Proc Comput Sci 98:560–565. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2016.09.086

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Ball T, Bjørner N, Gember A, Itzhaky S, Karbyshev A, Sagiv M, Schapira M, Valadarsky A (2014) Vericon: towards verifying controller programs in software-defined networks. SIGPLAN Not 49(6):282–293. doi:10.1145/2666356.2594317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Beckett R, Zou X, Zhang S, Malik S, Rexford J, Walker D (2014) An assertion language for debugging sdn applications. In: Proc of the 3rd Workshop on Hot Topics in Software Defined Networking, ACM, New York, NY, USA, HotSDN ’14, pp 91–96. doi:10.1145/2620728.2620743

  7. 7.

    Bertot Y, Castran P (2004) Interactive theorem proving and program development, 1st edn. Springer, Berlin. doi:10.1007/978-3-662-07964-5

  8. 8.

    Bingham B, Bingham J, de Paula FM, Erickson J, Singh G, Reitblatt M (2010) Industrial strength distributed explicit state model checking. In: Proc of the 9th international workshop on parallel and distributed methods in verification and 2nd international workshop on high performance computational systems biology, IEEE, Enschede, Netherlands, pp 28–36. doi:10.1109/PDMC-HiBi.2010.13

  9. 9.

    Bochmann G, Rayner D, West CH (2010) Some notes on the history of protocol engineering. Comput Netw 54(18):3197–3209. doi:10.1016/j.comnet.2010.05.019

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Cai Z, Cox AL, Ng TSE (2011) Maestro: a system for scalable OpenFlow control. Tech. rep., Rice University, Houston, USA, code at https://code.google.com/p/maestro-platform/

  11. 11.

    Campbell AT, De Meer HG, Kounavis ME, Miki K, Vicente JB, Villela D (1999) A survey of programmable networks. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 29(2):7–23. doi:10.1145/505733.505735

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Canini M, Venzano D, Perešíni P, Kostić D, Rexford J (2012) A NICE way to test OpenFlow applications. In: Proc of the 9th USENIX symposium on networked systems design and implementation (NSDI12). USENIX, San Jose, CA, pp 127–140

  13. 13.

    Cimatti A, Clarke E, Giunchiglia F, Roveri M (1999) NuSMV: a new symbolic model verifier. In: Halbwachs N, Peled D (eds) Proceedings eleventh conference on computer-aided verification (CAV’99), Springer, Trento, Italy, no. 1633 in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp 495–499

  14. 14.

    Della Penna G, Intrigila B, Melatti I, Tronci E, Venturini Zilli M (2004) Exploiting transition locality in automatic verification of finite-state concurrent systems. Int J Softw Tools Technol Transf 6(4):320–341. doi:10.1007/s10009-004-0149-6

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Dhawan M, Poddar R, Mahajan K, Mann V (2015) SPHINX: detecting security attacks in software-defined networks. In: Network and distributed system security symposium (NDSS Symposium 2015), USENIX Association, San Diego, CA, USA

  16. 16.

    El-Hassany A, Miserez J, Bielik P, Vanbever L, Vechev M (2016) Sdnracer: concurrency analysis for software-defined networks. SIGPLAN Not 51(6):402–415. doi:10.1145/2980983.2908124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Feamster N, Rexford J, Zegura E (2014) The road to sdn: an intellectual history of programmable networks. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 44(2):87–98. doi:10.1145/2602204.2602219

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Foster N, Harrison R, Freedman MJ, Monsanto C, Rexford J, Story A, Walker D (2011) Frenetic: a network programming language. SIGPLAN Not 46(9):279–291. doi:10.1145/2034574.2034812

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Gallardo MM, Martínez J, Merino P (2005) Model checking active networks with spin. Comput Commun 28(6):609–622. doi:10.1016/j.comcom.2004.08.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Gnesi S, Margaria T (2013) Formal methods for industrial critical systems : a survey of applications. Wiley, Hoboken. doi:10.1002/9781118459898

  21. 21.

    GSMA’s Network 2020 (2016) Unlocking commercial opportunities from 4G Evolution to 5G. Tech. rep., GSMA Association, London, United Kingdom. http://www.gsma.com/network2020/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/704_GSMA_unlocking_comm_opp_report_v5.pdf

  22. 22.

    Gude N, Koponen T, Pettit J, Pfaff B, Casado M, McKeown N, Shenker S (2008) Nox: towards an operating system for networks. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 38(3):105–110. doi:10.1145/1384609.1384625, tool avaliable at https://github.com/noxrepo/nox

  23. 23.

    Guha A, Reitblatt M, Foster N (2013) Machine-verified network controllers. SIGPLAN Not 48(6):483–494. doi:10.1145/2499370.2462178

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Handigol N, Heller B, Jeyakumar V, Maziéres D, McKeown N (2012) Where is the debugger for my software-defined network? In: Proc of the 1st Workshop on Hot Topics in Software Defined Networks, ACM, New York, NY, USA, HotSDN ’12, pp 55–60, doi:10.1145/2342441.2342453

  25. 25.

    Holzmann G (2003) Spin model checker, the: primer and reference manual, 1st edn. Addison-Wesley, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Holzmann GJ (1991) Design and validation of computer protocols. Prentice-Hall, Inc, Upper Saddle River

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Jackson D (2012) Software abstractions: logic, language, and analysis. MIT press, London

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Karimzadeh M, Sperotto A, Pras A (2014) Software defined networking to improve mobility management performance. In: Sperotto A, Doyen G, Latré S, Charalambides M, Stiller B (eds) Monitoring and securing virtualized networks and services: proc of the 8th IFIP WG 6.6 international conference on autonomous infrastructure, management, and security, AIMS 2014, Brno, Czech Republic, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 118–122, doi:10.1007/978-3-662-43862-6_14

  29. 29.

    Kazemian P, Varghese G, McKeown N (2012) Header space analysis: static checking for networks. In: 9th USENIX symposium on networked systems design and implementation (NSDI 12). USENIX, Lombard, IL, pp 113–126

  30. 30.

    Kazemian P, Chang M, Zeng H, Varghese G, McKeown N, Whyte S (2013) Real time network policy checking using header space analysis. In: 10th USENIX symposium on networked systems design and implementation (NSDI 13). USENIX, Lombard, IL, pp 99–111

  31. 31.

    Khurshid A, Zhou W, Caesar M, Godfrey PB (2012) Veriflow: verifying network-wide invariants in real time. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 42(4):467–472. doi:10.1145/2377677.2377766

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Kim H, Reich J, Gupta A, Shahbaz M, Feamster N, Clark R (2015) Kinetic: verifiable dynamic network control. In: 12th USENIX symposium on networked systems design and implementation (NSDI 15), USENIX Association, Oakland, CA, pp 59–72. https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi15/technical-sessions/presentation/kim

  33. 33.

    Kong C, Alexander P, Dieckman D (2000) Formal modeling of active network nodes using pvs. In: Proc of the 3rd workshop on formal methods in software practice, ACM, New York, NY, USA, FMSP ’00, pp 49–59. doi:10.1145/349360.351130

  34. 34.

    Lakshman T, Stiliadis D (1998) High-speed policy-based packet forwarding using efficient multi-dimensional range matching. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 28(4):203–214. doi:10.1145/285243.285283

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Leucker M, Schallhart C (2009) A brief account of runtime verification. J Logic Algebraic Program 78(5):293–303. doi:10.1016/j.jlap.2008.08.004

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Li L, Mao ZM, Rexford J (2012) Toward software-defined cellular networks. In: Proc of the 2012 European workshop on software defined networking, IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, USA, EWSDN ’12, pp 7–1. doi:10.1109/EWSDN.2012.28

  37. 37.

    Linux Fundation Collaborative Projects (2016) Opendaylight. http://www.opendaylight.org/

  38. 38.

    Mai H, Khurshid A, Agarwal R, Caesar M, Godfrey PB, King ST (2011) Debugging the data plane with anteater. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 41(4):290–301. doi:10.1145/2043164.2018470

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Majumdar R, Tetali SD, Wang Z (2014) Kuai: a model checker for software-defined networks. In: Formal methods in computer-aided design (FMCAD), 2014, IEEE, Lausanne, Switzerland, pp 163–170. doi:10.1109/FMCAD.2014.6987609

  40. 40.

    McKeown N, Anderson T, Balakrishnan H, Parulkar G, Peterson Rexford J, Shenker S, Turner J (2008) Openflow: enabling innovation in campus networks. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 38(2):69–74. doi:10.1145/1355734.1355746

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Miserez J, Bielik P, El-Hassany A, Vanbever L, Vechev M (2015) Sdnracer: detecting concurrency violations in software-defined networks. In: Proc of the 1st ACM SIGCOMM symposium on software defined networking research, ACM, New York, NY, USA, SOSR ’15, pp 22:1–22:7. doi:10.1145/2774993.2775004

  42. 42.

    Monsanto C, Foster N, Harrison R, Walker D (2012) A compiler and run-time system for network programming languages. SIGPLAN Not 47(1):217–230. doi:10.1145/2103621.2103685

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    de Moura L, Bjørner N (2008) Z3: An efficient smt solver. In: Ramakrishnan CR, Rehof J (eds) Tools and algorithms for the construction and analysis of systems: 14th international conference (TACAS 2008), Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 337–340. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-78800-3_24

  44. 44.

    Nayak AK, Reimers A, Feamster N, Clark R (2009) Resonance: dynamic access control for enterprise networks. In: Proc of the 1st ACM Workshop on Research on Enterprise Networking, ACM, New York, NY, USA, WREN ’09, pp 11–18. doi:10.1145/1592681.1592684

  45. 45.

    Nelson T, Guha A, Dougherty DJ, Fisler K, Krishnamurthi S (2013) A balance of power: expressive, analyzable controller programming. In: Proc the 2nd ACM SIGCOMM workshop on hot topics in software defined networking, ACM, New York, NY, USA, HotSDN ’13, pp 79–84. doi:10.1145/2491185.2491201

  46. 46.

    Nelson T, Ferguson AD, Scheer MJG, Krishnamurthi S (2014) Tierless programming and reasoning for software-defined networks. In: Proc the 11th USENIX conference on networked systems design and implementation, USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA, USA, NSDI’14, pp 519–531

  47. 47.

    NGMN Alliance (2015) NGMN 5G White Paper. Tech. rep., Next Generation Mobile Networks, Frankfurt, Germany. www.ngmn.org/uploads/media/NGMN_5G_White_Paper_V1_0.pdf

  48. 48.

    Nguyen V, Do T, Kim Y (2016) Sdn and virtualization-based lte mobile network architectures: a comprehensive survey. Wirel Pers Commun 86(3):1401–1438. doi:10.1007/s11277-015-2997-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Nunes BA, Mendonca M, Nguyen XN, Obraczka K, Turletti T (2014) A survey of software-defined networking: past, present, and future of programmable networks. IEEE Commun Surv Tutor 16(3):1617–1634. doi:10.1109/SURV.2014.012214.00180

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Open Networking Lab (2013) POX (Python Network Controller) Wiki. https://openflow.stanford.edu/x/TYBr

  51. 51.

    Paulin-Mohring C (2012) Introduction to the coq proof-assistant for practical software verification. In: Meyer B, Nordio M (eds) Tools for practical software verification, LASER 2011 summerschool, revised tutorial lectures, Springer-Verlag, Elba Island, Italy, no. 7682 in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp 45–95

  52. 52.

    Peled DA, Gries D, Schneider FB (eds) (2001) Software reliability methods. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc, Secaucus

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Pentikousis K, Wang Y, Hu W (2013) Mobileflow: toward software-defined mobile networks. IEEE Commun Mag 51(7):44–53. doi:10.1109/MCOM.2013.6553677

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Pnueli A (1977) The temporal logic of programs. In: Proceedings of the 18th annual symposium on foundations of computer science, IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, USA, SFCS ’77, pp 46–57. doi:10.1109/SFCS.1977.32

  55. 55.

    Project Frenetic (2015) Pyretic documentation. http://frenetic-lang.org/pyretic/

  56. 56.

    Qazi ZA, Tu C, Chiang L, Miao R, Sekar V, Yu M (2013) Simple-fying middlebox policy enforcement using sdn. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 43(4):27–38. doi:10.1145/2534169.2486022

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Sethi D, Narayana S, Malik S (2013) Abstractions for model checking SDN controllers. In: Formal methods in computer-aided design, FMCAD, IEEE, Portland, OR, USA, pp 145–148. doi:10.1109/FMCAD.2013.6679403

  58. 58.

    Shenker S, Casado M, Koponen T, McKeown N et al (2011) The future of networking, and the past of protocols. Open Networking Summit 20:1–30. http://opennetsummit.org/archives/oct11/site/

  59. 59.

    Shu Z, Wan J, Lin J, Wang S, Li D, Rho S, Yang C (2016) Traffic engineering in software-defined networking: measurement and management. IEEE Access 4:3246–3256. doi:10.1109/ACCESS.2016.2582748

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Skowyra R, Lapets A, Bestavros A, Kfoury A (2014) A verification platform for sdn-enabled applications. In: Cloud engineering (IC2E), 2014 IEEE international conference on, IEEE, Boston, Massachussets, USA, pp 337–342. doi:10.1109/IC2E.2014.72

  61. 61.

    Stehr M, Talcott CL (2002) Plan in maude: specifying an active network programming language. Electr Notes Theor Comput Sci 71:240–260. doi:10.1016/S1571-0661(05)82538-1

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Tennenhouse DL, Wetherall D (2007) Towards an active network architecture. SIGCOMM Comput Commun Rev 37(5):81–94. doi:10.1145/1290168.1290180

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Tennenhouse DL, Smith JM, Sincoskie WD, Wetheral DJ, Minden GJ (1997) A survey of active network research. IEEE Commun Mag 35(1):80–86

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Voellmy A, Hudak P (2011) Nettle: taking the sting out of programming network routers. In: International symposium on practical aspects of declarative languages. Springer, Austin, TX, USA, vol 6539, pp 235–249

  65. 65.

    Wang G, Ng TE, Shaikh A (2012) Programming your network at run-time for big data applications. In: Proceedings of the first workshop on hot topics in software defined networks, ACM, New York, NY, USA, HotSDN ’12, pp 103–108. doi:10.1145/2342441.2342462

  66. 66.

    West CH, Zafiropulo P (1978) Automated validation of a communications protocol: the ccitt x.21 recommendation. IBM J Res Dev 22(1):60–71. doi:10.1147/rd.221.0060

  67. 67.

    J Woodcock, PG Larsen, J Bicarregui, Fitzgerald J (2009) Formal methods: practice and experience. ACM Comput Surv 41(4):19:1–19:36. doi:10.1145/1592434.1592436

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Xie GG, Zhan J, Maltz DA, Zhang H, Greenberg A, Hjalmtysson G, Rexford J (2005) On static reachability analysis of ip networks. In: Proc IEEE 24th annual joint conference of the IEEE computer and communications societies, IEEE, Miami, FL, vol 3, pp 2170–2183. doi:10.1109/INFCOM.2005.1498492

  69. 69.

    Zope N, Pawar S, Saquib Z (2016) Firewall and load balancing as an application of sdn. In: 2016 Conference on advances in signal processing (CASP), pp 354–359. doi:10.1109/CASP.2016.7746195

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leticia Lavado.

Additional information

This work has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness Project TIN2015-67083-R.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lavado, L., Panizo, L., Gallardo, MdM. et al. A characterisation of verification tools for software defined networks. J Reliable Intell Environ 3, 189–207 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40860-017-0045-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Software-defined Networking (SDN)
  • Data Plane
  • Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM)
  • Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)
  • Flow Table