Surviving switch failures in cloud datacenters

Rachee Singh, Muqeet Mukhtar, Ashay Krishna, Aniruddha Parkhi, Jitendra Padhye, David Maltz


Switch failures can hamper access to client services, cause link congestion and blackhole network traffic. In this study, we examine the nature of switch failures in the datacenters of a large commercial cloud provider through the lens of survival theory. We study a cohort of over 180,000 switches with a variety of hardware and software configurations and find that datacenter switches have a 98% likelihood of functioning uninterrupted for over 3 months since deployment in production. However, there is significant heterogeneity in switch survival rates with respect to their hardware and software: the switches of one vendor are twice as likely to fail compared to the others. We attribute the majority of switch failures to hardware impairments and unplanned power losses. We find that the in-house switch operating system, SONiC, boosts the survival likelihood of switches in datacenters by 1% by eliminating switch failures caused by software bugs in vendor switch OSes.

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