Rosemary: A Robust, Secure, and High-Performance Network Operating System


Shin, S., Song, Y., Lee, T., Lee, S., Chung, J., Porras, P., . . . Kang, B. B. (2014, 3–7 November). Rosemary: a robust, secure, and high-performance network operating system. Paper presented at the ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS’14), Scottsdale, AZ.


Within the hierarchy of the Software Defined Network (SDN) network stack, the control layer operates as the critical middleware facilitator of interactions between the data plane and the network applications, which govern flow routing decisions. In the OpenFlow implementation of the SDN model, the control layer, commonly referred to as a network operating system (NOS), has been realized by a range of competing implementations that offer various performance and functionality advantages: Floodlight [11], POX [30], NOX [14], and ONIX [18]. In this paper we focus on the question of control layer resilience, when rapidly developed prototype network applications go awry, or third-party network applications incorporate unexpected vulnerabilities, fatal instabilities, or even malicious logic. We demonstrate how simple and common failures in a network application may lead to loss of the control layer, and in effect, loss of network control. To address these concerns we present the ROSEMARY controller, which implements a network application containment and resilience strategy based around the notion of spawning applications independently within a micro-NOS. ROSEMARY distinguishes itself by its blend of process containment, resource utilization monitoring, and an application permission structure, all designed to prevent common failures of network applications from halting operation of the SDN Stack. We present our design and implementation of ROSEMARY, along with an extensive evaluation of its performance relative to several of the mostly well-known and widely used controllers. Rather than imposing significant performance costs, we find that with the integration of two optimization features, ROSEMARY offers a competitive performance advantage over the majority of other controllers.

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