Programming Socket-Independent Network Functions with Nethuns

Nicola Bonelli, Fabio Del Vigna, Alessandra Fais, Giuseppe Lettieri, Gregorio Procissi


Software data planes running on commodity servers are very popular in real deployments. However, to attain top class performance, the software approach requires the adoption of accelerated network I/O frameworks, each of them characterized by its own programming model and API. As a result, network applications are often closely tied to the underlying technology, with obvious issues of portability over different systems. This is especially true in cloud scenarios where different I/O frameworks could be installed depending on the configuration of the physical servers in the infrastructure. The nethuns library proposes a unified programming abstraction to access and manage network operations over different I/O frameworks. The library is freely available to the community under the BSD license and currently supports AF_XDP and netmap for fast packet handling along with the classic AF_PACKET and the pcap library. Network applications based on nethuns need only to be re-compiled to run over a different network API. The experiments prove that the overhead introduced by nethuns is negligible, hence making it a convenient programming platform that eases the coding process while guaranteeing high performance and portability. As proofs of concept, a handy traffic generator as well as the popular Open vSwitch application have been successfully ported and tested over nethuns.

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