Don't share, Don't lock: Large-scale Software Connection Tracking with Krononat


Fabien André, Stéphane Gouache, Nicolas Le Scouarnec, and Antoine Monsifrot, Technicolor


To simplify software updates and provide new services, ISPs are interested in migrating network functions implemented in residential gateways (such as DSL or Cable modems) to the cloud. Two key functions of residential gateways are Network Address Translation (NAT) and stateful firewalling which both rely on connection tracking. To date, these functions cannot be efficiently implemented in the cloud: current OSes connection tracking is unable to meet the scale and reliability needs of ISPs, while hardware appliances are often too expensive.

In this paper, we present Krononat, a distributed software NAT that runs on a cluster of commodity servers, providing a cost-efficient solution with an excellent reliability. To achieve these results, Krononat relies on 3 key ideas: (i) sharding the connection tracking state across multiple servers, down to the core level; (ii) steering traffic exploiting the features of entry-level switches; and (iii) avoiding all locks and data sharing on the data path.

Krononat supports a rate of 77 million packets per second on only 12 cores, tracking up to 60M connections. Krononat is immune to single node failures, and accommodates elastic workloads through a fast reconfiguration mechanism (< 500ms).

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@inproceedings {215943,
author = {Fabien Andr{\'e} and St{\'e}phane Gouache and Nicolas Le Scouarnec and Antoine Monsifrot},
title = {Don{\textquoteright}t share, Don{\textquoteright}t lock: Large-scale Software Connection Tracking with Krononat},
booktitle = {2018 {USENIX} Annual Technical Conference ({USENIX} {ATC} 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-44-7},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {453--466},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},