CSS Assistant Professor Is Developing A Virtual Network Infrastructure

May 17, 2006

ATLANTA (May 18, 2006)--Nick Feamster, Assistant Professor within the College's Computing Sciences & Systems (CSS) division is developing Virtual Network Infrastructure (VINI), a new testbed to help network researchers develop and deploy new network routing protocols and architectures, and then test them in realistic settings.

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) and Future Internet Design (FIND) initiatives have exhorted the networking research community to develop new Internet protocols and architectures that provide better performance, security and manageability than the current infrastructure offers. In the spirit of GENI's goals, VINI offers network researchers a platform to test future Internet protocols and architectures in a realistic setting that also gives researchers the ability to control network conditions.

"VINI allows network researchers to do things like tweak router configurations and inject link and router failures," says Feamster. "These types of disruptive operations are necessary for evaluating new network architectures, but they cannot be performed on production networks." In other words, VINI offers network researchers the first opportunity to design and run experiments in an environment that looks and feels like the real Internet. VINI currently allows researchers to establish virtual networks with software routers and virtual links between these routers on the PlanetLab testbed, a network of machines distributed across hundreds of sites around the world.

Collaborating with researchers from Princeton University, Feamster has used VINI to recreate the routing environment of the Abilene network-the U.S. part of "Internet2," in a virtual environment running on PlanetLab. The VINI project will ultimately offer network researchers dedicated hardware, upstream connectivity to ISPs and the ability to test the performance of new network protocols and architectures with real network traffic. Feamster and the other VINI researchers: Jennifer Rexford, Larry Peterson, Andy Bavier and Mark Huang, are in the process of opening the infrastructure to the research community.

A paper describing the VINI design and implementation was recently accepted for the proceedings at this year's ACM SIGCOMM conference, the premier annual conference in computer networking. "In VINI Veritas: Realistic and Controlled Network Experimentation" is Feamster's second paper accepted by SIGCOMM 2006, and the preliminary version can be viewed by clicking here.

For more information about ACM's SIGCOMM 2006 Conference, click here.