Observability in a Programmable World: Diagnosing eBPF and P4 Programs

Spring 2022
Large scale infrastructures have recently turned to application-offloads to improve the performance, security and functionality of their applications.  In particular, these trends range from using eBPF to offload edge functionality into the kernel or using languages like P4 to offload cluster functionality into smartNiCs and smartSwitches.  Although these approaches promise improved functionality, they often introduce performance degradation and regressions. Yet, existing observability and diagnosis tools generally do not provide visibility into these programmable offload substrates.
In this talk, I will highlight the management and performance implications of eBPF-based offloads, then I will discuss challenges which prevent us from directly extending existing observability techniques into such substrates, and finally I will discuss on going work to directly provide visibility into eBPF and P4 based programs.

Dr. Benson is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Brown University.  His group focuses on developing models and designing algorithms and frameworks to improve the performance and availability of computer networks. In particular, his group explores the critical role that network state plays in determining network performance and availability with the state’s inherent semantics and emergent state management techniques by investigating designs and algorithms to more holistically understand and manage this state. More recently, this approach has been applied to addressing the digital divide, improving microservices/clouds, managing software defined networks, and rethinking CDN designs. These designs and systems have been deployed at web scale companies, adopted by opensource systems, and acquired by a large hardware manufacturer.

Larry Peterson is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus at Princeton University, where he served as Chair from 2003-2009. He is a co-author of the best selling networking textbook Computer Networks: A Systems Approach (6e), which is now available as open source on GitHub. His research focuses on the design, implementation, and operation of Internet-scale distributed systems, including the widely used PlanetLab and MeasurementLab platforms. He is currently working on a pilot 5G-enabled edge cloud, called Aether, an open source project of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), where he serves CTO.

Professor Peterson is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the ACM and the IEEE, the 2010 recipient of the IEEE Kobayashi Computer and Communication Award, and the 2013 recipient of the ACM SIGCOMM Award. He received his Ph.D. degree from Purdue University in 1985.

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