6LB: Scalable and Application-Aware Load Balancing with Segment Routing

Abstract : Network load-balancers generally either do not take application state into account, or do so at the cost of a centralized monitoring system. This paper introduces a load-balancer running exclusively within the IP forwarding plane, i.e. in an application protocol agnostic fashion-yet which still provides application-awareness and makes real-time, decentralized decisions. To that end, IPv6 Segment Routing is used to direct data packets from a new flow through a chain of candidate servers, until one decides to accept the connection, based solely on its local state. This way, applications themselves naturally decide on how to fairly share incoming connections, while incurring minimal network overhead, and no out-of-band signaling. A consistent hashing algorithm, as well as an in-band stickiness protocol, allow for the proposed solution to be able to be reliably distributed across a large number of instances. Performance evaluation by means of an analytical model and actual tests on different workloads (including a Wikipedia replay as a realistic workload) show significant performance benefits in terms of shorter response times, when compared to a traditional random load-balancer. In addition, this paper introduces and compares kernel bypass high-performance implementations of both 6LB and a state-of-the-art load-balancer, showing that the significant system-level benefits of 6LB are achievable with a negligible data-path CPU overhead.
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Yoann Desmouceaux, Pierre Pfister, Jérôme Tollet, Mark Townsley, Thomas Heide Clausen. 6LB: Scalable and Application-Aware Load Balancing with Segment Routing. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, IEEE/ACM, 2018, 26 (2), pp.819-834. ⟨10.1109/TNET.2018.2799242⟩. ⟨hal-02263364⟩

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