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Design and Implementation of a Visual Tool for SFC (Service Function Chaining) Construction and Blockchain-based Validation

BA
State: completed by Martin Bucher

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) decouples packet processing from dedicated hardware middleboxes for any Virtual Network Functions (VNF) running on commercial off-the-shelf servers [1].  In NFV-enabled networks, Service Providers (SPs) have the opportunity to design a business model where tenants can purchase VNFs that provide distinct network services and functions. For example, one tenant purchases VNFs (e.g., a firewall and load balancer) that provide different services that meet dynamic customer demands. This model benefits tenants (e.g., by reducing capital/operational expenditures and easing the contract of new network services) while increasing the revenue of the SPs. Besides, NFV allows a simplified service chaining to ensure the chaining of different VNFs to supply network demands. This chaining is defined by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as a forwarding graph (FG) for VNFs that are interconnected within the virtual network infrastructure. This forwarding graph simplifies the representation of the service chaining, and allows the operator to carry out daily tasks quickly, such as creating and modifying packets flows along VNFs, deploying new VNFs, and undertaking maintenance tasks. Despite all the benefits, the chaining of VNFs is yet manual and not intuitive. Thus, it requires operators to have a broad understanding of the environment to chain VNFs and create services.

Information visualization can be a viable tool to simplify tasks related to the creation of VNFs chaining [2], thus helping service providers in understanding and configuring innovative network services fastly. The integration between NFV and visualization approaches can also be benefited from the blockchain technology. This technology has been received considerable attention from the industry and academia because of the large applications opportunities [3]. By considering the immutability of the data and tamper-proof records provided by blockchain, it can be valuable to be applied in an approach where a set of service providers should rely on blockchain technology to deploy a complete network service based on a previously defined forwarding graph.

The goal of this thesis is to research how to develop a visualization solution to construct chaining of VNFs intuitively. This solution will provide a visual interface to select VNFs to create a VNF Forwarding Graph Descriptor (VNFFGD). After that, the content of the VNFFGD should be extracted and stored in a blockchain to provide a public integrity check of the created network service. In addition to the visualization benefits for easily VNF chaining construction, NFV-enabled networks can use this tamper-proof record to access relevant information (e.g., VNF conflicts, minimum requirements, and SFC validation) for the service offering and deployment process.

References:

[1] ETSI NFV ISG. "Network Functions Virtualisation". 2012. Available from Internet: <https://portal.etsi.org/nfv/nfv_white_paper.pdf>. Accessed 17 Sept. 2018.

[2] GUIMARAES, V. T. et al. "A Survey on Information Visualization for Network and Service Management". IEEE COMMUNICATIONS SURVEYS TUTORIALS, v. 18, n. 1, p. 285–323, Firstquarter 2016.

[3] Swan, M. "Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy". O'Reilly. 1st Edition. 2015.

Final Report

30% Design, 60% Implementation, 10% Documentation
Computer Networks basics, Javascript/JSON, Web programming, Python

Supervisors: Dr. Eder John Scheid, Muriel Figueredo Franco

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