Ethane: Taking Control of the Enterprise

By: 
Martin Casado, Michael J. Freedman, Justin Pettit, Jianying Luo, Nick McKeown, and Scott Shenker
Appears in: 
CCR October 2007

This paper presents Ethane, a new network architecture for the enterprise. Ethane allows managers to define a single networkwide fine-grain policy, and then enforces it directly. Ethane couples extremely simple flow-based Ethernet switches with a centralized controller that manages the admittance and routing of flows. While radical, this design is backwards-compatible with existing hosts and switches.

We have implemented Ethane in both hardware and software, supporting both wired and wireless hosts. Our operational Ethane network has supported over 300 hosts for the past four months in in Stanford University’s network, and this deployment experience has significantly affected Ethane’s design.