ACM SIGCOMM 2015, London, UK
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ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Hot Topics in Middleboxes and Network Function Virtualization - HotMiddlebox

Co-located with ACM SIGCOMM’ 15

Friday August 21, 2015

London, UK

Workshop location

The workshop will take place in Huxley Building, room 308. For directions inside Imperial College check the campus map (building number 13).

Technical Program


Modern networks increasingly rely on advanced network processing functions for a wide spectrum of crucial functions ranging from security (e.g. firewalls, IDSes, traffic scrubbers), traffic shaping (e.g. rate limiters, load balancers), dealing with address space exhaustion (e.g. NATs) or improving the performance of network applications (e.g. traffic accelerators, caches, proxies), to name a few. Such “network appliances” or “middleboxes” are a critical piece of the network infrastructure and represent, to a first-order approximation, the de-facto approach for network evolution in response to changing performance, security, and policy compliance requirements.

However, most of this functionality is implemented in costly, hard-to-modify dedicated hardware, making the network difficult to evolve or adapt to changing traffic requirements. Recent work seeks to address this issue by shifting network processing from a world of dedicated hardware to one where software-based processing runs on virtualized, shared platforms built on commodity hardware servers, switches, and storage. This vision of “software-based” network services enables new in-network functions to be rapidly instantiated, on-demand, and at places in the network where it is most needed, without having to modify the underlying hardware. This trend towards virtualizing network functions is called Network Function Virtualization, NFV, and has gained a lot of traction in the industry in the past years, to the point where we standards are being discussed and initial deployments are emerging. It is also foreseen that such in-network commodity infrastructure will be used not only by operators, but also by third parties, and operators may become miniature cloud-like service providers.

It is also well known that middleboxes ossify the Internet - they force all traffic to “look” like existing protocols for security and performance reasons; even app-level protocols have been hardwired into the network (e.g. protocol specific proxies for HTTP). The net effect is that extending the core protocols (e.g. TCP, even HTTP) has become increasingly difficult, and new applications must hide their traffic just to get through the network by using tunneling of various forms. In short, middleboxes have pushed the endpoints to use less efficient protocols, and this trend will continue.

This workshop focuses on:

  • the design of the data plane to support advanced services as well as the control plane functions necessary to manage these advanced data plane functions. In some sense, this vision is complementary to ongoing efforts in the SDN community, where the focus has largely been on the control plane and assuming a commodity data plane.
  • revisiting the architectural implications of middleboxes and proposing feasible solutions that can be embedded into software middleboxes, before they are widely adopted.

While our workshop builds on the recent promise of realizing high-performance network processing on commodity hardware, many questions remain open:

  • What are the best virtualization technologies for implementing high-performance network functions?
  • What are the challenges when trying to push them to rates of 10Gb and beyond?
  • How do we provide the best possible isolation, both in terms of software isolation but also performance?
  • How do we ensure that middlebox modules from different entities running on the same platform are assigned to the available hardware in an optimal way?
  • What control plane abstractions are necessary to manage such advanced and stateful services?
  • How can middleboxes be incorporated into the Software-Defined Networks paradigm?

The HotMiddlebox workshop will serve as an avenue to showcase and discuss ongoing work from both academic and industry efforts in this space and to identify key challenges and potential solutions, with the ultimate goal of providing a roadmap for practical deployment in operational networks.

Scope of the workshop

We encourage the submission of work-in-progress papers in the area of middlebox design, implementation, measurement, management, deployment, as well as Internet architecture implications of middleboxes. We look for submissions of previously unpublished work on topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Performance optimizations of network stacks on virtualized systems
  • Verification of unknown code running on shared middlebox platforms
  • Security issues regarding middleboxes
  • Extensible software stacks for rapid implementation of new middlebox functions
  • Mechanisms for migration of stateful middleboxes
  • Resource allocation mechanisms for shared/virtualized middlebox platforms
  • Integrating new software middleboxes into legacy networks
  • Backend storage/memory architectures for middleboxes
  • Management abstractions and policy language frameworks for middleboxes
  • Experiences in deploying software-based middleboxes in operational networks
  • Deployment and use of middleboxes in the cloud
  • Measurements of middleboxes in enterprise, ISP, and data center networks
  • Novel security, performance, and monitoring applications atop middleboxes
  • Challenges for policy verification in the context of middlebox services
  • Internet architecture implications of middleboxes

Submission Instructions

Submissions must be original, unpublished work, not under consideration at another venue. Each submission must be a single PDF file no longer than six (6) pages in length (in two-column, 10-point format) including references, following the provided LaTeX style file . Papers should be submitted electronically via the submission site. Papers must include the author name and affiliation for single-blind peer reviewing by the program committee.

Please upload your submissions to the workshop submission page.

Accepted papers will be published in the ACM Digital Library. Publication at HotMiddlebox is not intended to preclude later publication. Authors of accepted papers are expected to present their papers at the workshop.

Important Dates

  • March 31st, 5pm ET

    Abstract registration

  • April 7th, 5pm ET

    Paper submission

  • May 9th, 2015


  • June 1st, 2015

    Camera ready

  • August 21th, 2015

    Workshop date


  • Co-Chairs
  • Theophilus Benson

    Duke University, USA

  • Costin Raiciu

    University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania

  • Technical Program Commitee members
  • Pedro Aranda

    Telefonica, Spain

  • Olivier Bonaventure

    U. Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

  • Jon Crowcroft

    Cambridge University, UK

  • Yan Cai

    Google, USA

  • Lars Eggert

    NetApp, Germany

  • Dongsu Han

    Kaist, Korea

  • Felipe Huici

    NEC, Germany

  • Nate Foster

    Cornell, USA

  • Hani Jamjoom

    IBM, USA

  • Changhoon Kim

    Barefoot Network, USA

  • Li Erran Li

    Bell Labs, USA

  • Dave Meyer

    Brocade, USA

  • Andrew Moore

    Cambridge University, UK

  • Laurent Mathy

    U. of Liege, Belgium

  • Robin Sommer


  • Minlan Yu

    USC, USA

  • Steering Commitee Members
  • Bob Briscoe

    BT, UK

  • Christos Kolias

    Orange, USA

  • Sylvia Ratnasamy

    U. Berkeley, USA

  • Vyas Sekar

    CMU, USA

Download this call as a PDF