Clippy(ing) Network Functions: Towards Better Abstractions for Checking and Designing Network Programs [article]

Zeeshan Lakhani, Heather Miller
2018 arXiv   pre-print
When programming network functions, changes within a packet tend to have consequences---side effects which must be accounted for by network programmers or administrators via arbitrary logic and an innate understanding of dependencies. Examples of this include updating checksums when a packet's contents has been modified or adjusting a payload length field of a IPv6 header if another header is added or updated within a packet. While static-typing captures interface specifications and how packet
more » ... ontents should behave, it does not enforce precise invariants around runtime dependencies like the examples above. Instead, during the design phase of network functions, programmers should be given a easier way to specify checks up front, all without having to account for and keep track of these consequences at each and every step during the development cycle. In keeping with this view, we present a unique approach for adding and generating both static checks and dynamic contracts for specifying and checking packet processing operations. We develop our technique within an existing framework called NetBricks and demonstrate how our approach simplifies and checks common dependent packet and header processing logic that other systems take for granted, all without adding much overhead during development.
arXiv:1812.11145v1 fatcat:xlbsv24mzjan7iixrbrisbcijy