Prof. Hong Xu received the Best Paper Award from ACM SIGCOMM 2022 for the paper “Software-defined Network Assimilation: Bridging the Last Mile Towards Centralized Network Configuration Management with NAssim”. The project is led by Huawei Theory Lab here at Science Park, Hong Kong, with co-authors from BUPT, HKUST, etc.
The paper looks at configuration management in production large-scale networks, which consists of different network devices from various vendors. Specifically, we define the process of introducing heterogeneous network devices into a centrally controlled, existing software-defined network (SDN) as Software-defined Network Assimilation (SNA). The current SNA approaches are painstaking for network operations (NetOps) teams, because much expert effort is required to bridge the gap between the heterogeneous configuration models of the devices and the unified data model in the SDN controller. This paper presents NAssim to liberate the NetOps from most tedious tasks by learning directly from devices’ manuals to produce data models which are comprehensible by both the SDN controller and human experts. NAssim features a unified parser framework to parse diverse device user manuals into preliminary configuration models, a rigorous validator that confirm the correctness of the models via formal syntax analysis, model hierarchy validation and empirical data validation, and a deep-learning-based mapping algorithm that uses state-of-the-art neural language processing techniques to produce human-comprehensible recommended mapping between the validated configuration model and the one in the SDN controller.
The annual SIGCOMM conference is widely regarded as the top conference in the field of computer networking since its inception in 1988. It seeks papers with significant contributions on network architecture, design, implementation, operations, analysis, measurement, and simulation, and accepts about 50 papers out of 300 submissions each year.