Design and implementation of a consolidated middlebox architecture
Network deployments handle changing application, workload, and policy requirements via the deployment of specialized network appliances or "middleboxes". Today, however, middlebox platforms are expensive and closed systems, with little or no hooks for extensibility. Furthermore, they are acquired from independent vendors and deployed as standalone devices with little cohesiveness in how the ensemble of middleboxes is managed. As network requirements continue to grow in both scale and variety, this bottom-up approach puts middlebox deployments on a trajectory of growing device sprawl with corresponding escalation in capital and management costs. To address this challenge, we present CoMb, a new architecture for middlebox deployments that systematically explores opportunities for consolidation, both at the level of building individual middleboxes and in managing a network of middleboxes. This paper addresses key resource management and implementation challenges that arise in exploiting the benefits of consolidation in middlebox deployments. Using a prototype implementation in Click, we show that CoMb reduces the network provisioning cost 1.8-2.5× and reduces the load imbalance in a network by 2-25×.