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Published on Nov 20, 2015
Presented by: Muhammad Shahbaz, Princeton
Unlike OpenFlow, which provides a pipelined match-action table (MAT) abstraction, the native Open vSwitch (OVS) itself, on the other hand, provides a pool of MATs for the user to program. There is no inherent notion of a pipeline and it's the responsibility of the user to not only maintain tables' state but also explicitly construct the pipeline by installing carefully crafted flow rules at runtime. This abstraction, though very powerful, makes it hard to manage the switch as the number of MATs increase. P4 helps solve this problem by enabling users to statically define MAT pipelines as P4 programs and letting them only manage the tables' state at runtime. This has many benefits and, furthermore, with a P4 program one can also specialize OVS to implement only the required features like parsing Ethernet headers and not IP headers in case of layer-2 forwarding. In this talk, we will list these benefits and share our experience of compiling P4 to OVS.