CIS 800

Special Topic: Software-Defined Data Centers
Fall 2015

Instructor: Boon Thau Loo
Room: Distributed Systems Laboratory (DSL) Conference Room at Moore 102. The room is protected by a key code. If you are locked out, please ring the doorbell.
Time: Tuesday and Thursday Noon – 1:30pm
Office hours: Tues/Thurs 1:30-2:30pm (605 Levine Hall)

Piazza: CIS 800: Special Topics

Course Description

Software-defined data centers (SDDCs) refer to a data center where all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service. This seminar explores the building blocks behind SDDCs, in particular, recent innovations in Software-defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and virtualization technologies for storage and compute. This course includes paper readings, discussions, programming assignment, and a project. The final project will use open-source SDN/NFV platforms to develop software-based automation solutions for data centers. The reading list consists of research papers from networking and systems conferences. Invited speakers from industry (Brocade, Comcast, and Juniper Networks) will brainstorm practical use cases in the industry.

This class is open to Ph.D. students in the CIS and ESE department. Second year Masters students who have taken at least one systems course (es.g. CIS 505, CIS 553, or CIS 555) and have done well can enroll with the permission of the instructor.


If you wish to take the class for credit, do take note of the requirements below:

  • Paper summaries: 25%
  • Programming assignment: 10%
  • Class participation: 10%
  • Class presentation: 15%
  • Final project: 40%Students are required to read assigned papers for each class, and email paper summaries to the instructor the night before the class. A paper summary should be half a page long and consists of the following:
  • What is the problem that the paper tries to solve?
  • What are the main contributions and/or main shortcomings of the paper?
  • What improvements (if any) can be made to the paper?In addition, each student will be asked to select at least one paper from the reading list to be presented in class.You are welcomed to audit the class if physical space permits. The only requirement for students auditing is to attend the class discussions on a regular basis, and do an in-class presentation of one of the research papers.


    This schedule is subjected to change.

    Date Topic Paper/Websites Presenter Remarks
    Aug 27 Class introduction None Boon No summaries due.
    Sept 1 Data Center Networking Basics [FatTree08] Boon Class time changed to 6:30-8pm.
    Sept 3 Software-defined Networking Basics [OpenFlow08], [Nox08], [Open-vSwitch09] Boon Class time changed to 6:30-8pm
    Sept 8 Control Planes [ONIX10] Sudarshan
    Sept 10 Control Planes [Network-Updates12] Chen Chen
    Sept 15 Debugging and Verification [Veriflow13] Nimit
    Sept 17 Network middleboxes [Rollback-recovery15] Hanjun
    Sept 22 No class Instructor out of town
    Sept 24 Data center optimization [Iridium15] Miao
    Sept 29 Debugging and Verification [Nice12] Luke
    Oct 1 Programming Frameworks [Header-Space-Analysis12] Christian
    Oct 6 Synthesis Frameworks [NetEgg14] [Condor15] Yifei and Sibi
    Oct 12 Verification and Programming Frameworks [Flowlog14] Nikhilesh
    Oct 15 Novel Platforms [FlowTag14] [Pingmesh15] Stuart and Priya
    Oct 20 No class Instructor out of town
    Oct 23 Industry case study Juniper Contrail Guest lecture by Michael Langdon (Juniper Network).
    Time: 11:30am-1pm.
    Oct 27 Industry case study Comcast Guest lecture by Chris Luke (Comcast)
    Oct 29 Data center optimizations [Google-machinelearning] [Tiny-Packet-Programs14] Pedro and Anand
    Nov 3 Industry case study Brocade, SDN, and OpenDaylight Guest lecture by Colin Dixon
    Nov 5 No class Instructor out of town
    Nov 10 Load-balancing [Conga14] [Pyretic11] Behnaz and John
    Nov 12 SDN WAN Controller Juniper NorthStar WAN controller Guest lecture by Colby Barth and Tony Lin (Juniper Networks)
    Nov 17 SDN WAN [Google-SDN-WAN-13] Jatin
    Nov 19 No class. Instructor out of town
    Nov 24 P4 and Experiences [P4-14] and [P4 website] and [StorageVirtualization08] Shaanan and Meng
    Dec 1 Data Centers [Multi-resource-Packing14] and [Jupiter15] Daegaen and Antonis
    Dec 3 No class. Instructor out of town
    Dec 8 Final Project Presentations