EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P025374/1
Title: EARL: sdn EnAbled MeasuRement for alL
Principal Investigator: Uhlig, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Moore, Professor AW Cuadrado, Dr F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr G Antichi Dr I de Castro Arribas
Project Partners:
Cisco CORSA Technology Energy Sciences Network
Geant (UK) London Internet Exchange Ltd University of Cambridge
Department: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science
Organisation: Queen Mary University of London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2018 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 2,024,684
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Networks & Distributed Systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Mar 2017 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) have become a critical element of the Internet, as they provide the physical locations where networks interconnect and exchange traffic. IXPs carry huge traffic volumes, reduce interconnection costs, and hence make national Internet access affordable. Despite the growth of these infrastructures, the rapid evolution of the Internet poses new challenges.

Reacting as soon as possible to the highly dynamic Internet environment has always been the first priority for Network Operators. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art techniques are extremely limited. Networks use the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to inform each other of which destinations are reachable. Accordingly, network operators (ab)use BGP Traffic Engineering (TE) to tweak traffic paths. TE is a network-management tool allowing a network to adapt events ranging from a change in customer location to mitigating dramatically large traffic outbursts of a malicious Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. However, BGP-TE lacks programmability and dynamism: once BGP preferences are set up, they cannot react in real-time to network events.

With a high-fidelity measurement-focused approach, a network could implement more sophisticated traffic management techniques. For example, any network connected through an IXP must implement ingress traffic filtering to avoid receiving undesirable traffic (e.g., DDoS attacks or resulting from misconfigurations). However, correctly controlling ingress filters is complex. Thus, most IXP customers unrealistically expect the organisations originating the traffic to manage any problem. TE limitations result from the inability of current Internet monitoring techniques to cope with the wide range of granularities of network events. While control plane related events (those concerned with the selection of paths/routes, such as BGP updates) happen at a time scale of minutes, data plane events (packet processing) occur at time-scales of micro-seconds. While control plane monitoring is relatively easy, data plane observability is poor, relies on expensive equipment, and does not scale.

EARL addresses this imbalance between the ability to observe control and data plane, and the consequent limits on the detection and reaction to network events. EARL is a novel integration of monitoring mechanisms and reactive network management. EARL enables a prompt reaction to network events with its Software Defined Networking (SDN) approach. Because of the IXP's central role on the Internet and the critical nature at the national level, we believe that they are the ideal place to explore EARL's ideas. We will demonstrate how measurement-assisted network management permits new Internet-wide services and, enables the provision of services hitherto considered impossible or too costly to deploy. Our goal for the EARL project is to pioneer SDN enabled measurement-based network management to enhance the Internet infrastructure. This will lead to relevant tools and data for the larger researcher and practitioner communities. To this aim, we will create a new research instrument, EARLnet: an operational, research-centered, Autonomous System (AS) directly connected to our partners, providing a new and unique real-world environment for the real-time monitoring of network status and SDN-oriented research. EARLnet will serve also as a test-bed to develop and evaluate novel reactive network management solutions.

The EARL project has the potential to revolutionise current Internet network management through new fine-grained and reactive TE policies. EARL will not only create new mechanisms, but also translate the blind, legacy BGP-based, TE into measurement-assisted SDN techniques. Furthermore, through our partner institution, the Cambridge Cloud Cybercrime Centre (CCCC), EARLnet will provide valuable data to a large community of researchers and practitioners.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: