Letting off STEAM: Distributed Runtime Traffic Scheduling for Service Function Chaining

Marcel Blocher, Ramin Khalili, Lin Wang, Patrick Eugster

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Network function virtualization has introduced a high degree of flexibility for orchestrating service functions. The provisioning of chains of service functions requires making decisions on both (1) placement of service functions and (2) scheduling of traffic through them. The placement problem (1) can be tackled during the planning phase, by exploiting coarse-grained traffic information, and has been studied extensively. However, runtime traffic scheduling (2) for optimizing system utilization and service quality, as required for future edge cloud and mobile carrier scenarios, has not been addressed so far.We fill this gap by presenting a queuing-based system model to characterize the runtime traffic scheduling problem for service function chaining. We propose a throughput-optimal scheduling policy, called integer allocation maximum pressure policy (IA-MPP). To ensure practicality in large distributed settings, we propose multi-site cooperative IA-MPP (STEAM), fulfilling runtime requirements while achieving near-optimal performance. We examine our policies in various settings representing real-world scenarios. STEAM closely matches IA-MPP in terms of throughput, and significantly outperforms (possible adaptations of) existing static or coarse-grained dynamic solutions, requiring 30%-60% less server capacity for similar service quality. Our STEAM prototype shows feasibility running on a standard server.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationINFOCOM 2020 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781728164120
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020
Event38th IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2020 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 6 Jul 20209 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Conference38th IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2020


  • runtime traffic scheduling
  • Service function chaining
  • stochastic processing networks


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