PortLand: A Scalable Fault-Tolerant Layer 2 Data Center Network Fabric

By: 
Radhika Niranjan Mysore, Andreas Pamboris, Nathan Farrington, Nelson Huang, Pardis Miri, Sivasankar Radhakrishnan, Vikram Subramanya, and Amin Vahdat
Appears in: 
CCR October 2009

This paper considers the requirements for a scalable, easily manageable, fault-tolerant, and efficient data center network fabric. Trends in multi-core processors, end-host virtualization, and commodities of scale are pointing to future single-site data centers with millions of virtual end points. Existing layer 2 and layer 3 network protocols face some combination of limitations in such a setting: lack of scalability, difficult management, in exible communication, or limited support for virtual machine migration. To some extent, these limitations may be inherent for Ethernet/IP style protocols when trying to support arbitrary topologies. We observe that data center networks are often managed as a single logical network fabric with a known baseline topology and growth model. We leverage this observation in the design and implementation of PortLand, a scalable, fault tolerant layer 2 routing and forwarding protocol for data center environments. Through our implementation and evaluation, we show that PortLand holds promise for supporting a \plug-and-play" large-scale, data center network.