Refactoring network infrastructure to improve manageability: a case study of home networking

By: 
Marshini Chetty, Nick Feamster
Appears in: 
CCR July 2012

Managing a home network is challenging because the underlying infrastructure is so complex. Existing interfaces either hide or expose the network's underlying complexity, but in both cases, the information that is shown does not necessarily allow a user to complete desired tasks. Recent advances in software defined networking, however, permit a redesign of the underlying network and protocols, potentially allowing designers to move complexity further from the user and, in some cases, eliminating it entirely. In this paper, we explore whether the choices of what to make visible to the user in the design of today's home network infrastructure, performance, and policies make sense. We also examine whether new capabilities for refactoring the network infrastructure - changing the underlying system without compromising existing functionality - should cause us to revisit some of these choices. Our work represents a case study of how co-designing an interface and its underlying infrastructure could ultimately improve interfaces for that infrastructure.