Distributed Network Monitoring and Debugging with SwitchPointer


Praveen Tammana, University of Edinburgh; Rachit Agarwal, Cornell University; Myungjin Lee, University of Edinburgh


Monitoring and debugging large-scale networks remains a challenging problem. Existing solutions operate at one of the two extremes—systems running at end-hosts (more resources but less visibility into the network) or at network switches (more visibility, but limited resources).

We present SwitchPointer, a network monitoring and debugging system that integrates the best of the two worlds. SwitchPointer exploits end-host resources and programmability to collect and monitor telemetry data. The key contribution of SwitchPointer is to efficiently provide network visibility by using switch memory as a "directory service"—each switch, rather than storing the data necessary for monitoring functionalities, stores pointers to end-hosts where relevant telemetry data is stored. We demonstrate, via experiments over real-world testbeds, that SwitchPointer can efficiently monitor and debug network problems, many of which were either hard or even infeasible with existing designs.

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@inproceedings {211287,
author = {Praveen Tammana and Rachit Agarwal and Myungjin Lee},
title = {Distributed Network Monitoring and Debugging with SwitchPointer},
booktitle = {15th {USENIX} Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation ({NSDI} 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-43-0},
address = {Renton, WA},
pages = {453--456},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi18/presentation/tammana},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},