DaoliNet for Dynamic, Efficient, Scalable and Virtualized Docker Networking


The networking architecture of DaoliNet is based on the OpenFlow standard. It uses an OpenFlow Controller as an intelligent control plane, and Open-V-Switches (OVSes) to implement the datapath. The OpenFlow Controller in DaoliNet is a logically centralized entity but physically a set of HA distributed web-service-like agents. OVSes are ubiquitously available in Linux kernels and hence in all Docker servers.

In a DaoliNet network, all Docker servers are either in an Ethernet which is physically connected, or in a large L2 which is distributed over a scalable IP fabric (e.g., server MAC-in-UDP). Each Docker server acts as a virtual router for all of the container workloads that are hosted on that server. However, these virtual routers work in OpenFlow technology and they do not run any routing algorithms. Upon a container initiating a connection, the involved virtual routers will be real-time configured by the OpenFlow Controller to establish a route.

Top-Level Features

How it Works

When a container initiates a connection, the OVS in the hosting Docker server as the source router will issue a PacketIn request to the OpenFlow Controller. The PacketIn request is just the first packet from the initiating container. The OpenFlow Controller, knowing all Docker servers as OpenFlow routers in the system and seeing PacketIN, can identify another Docker server which hosts the container as the destination workload. This second Docker server is the destination router for the connection. The OpenFlow Controller will respond with a pair of PacketOut flows, one for the source server, and the other for the destination server. These PacketOut flows establish a hot-plug route between the two containers, see Figure "Hot-Plug Connection".


A hot-plug route consists of three IP hops in general: (1) src-container-src-server hop, where the containers' logical IPs are changed into their physical IPs , (2) src-server-dst-server hop, and (3) dst-server-dst-container hop, where the containers' physical IPs are changed back to their logical IPs. The scalability of the container cloud network is achieved by connecting the servers over an IP fabric, e.g., VXLAN encapsulation of the servers MAC-in-UDP, see figure below.

In case of the two containers being hosted in the same Docker server, the PacketOut flow route consists of one hop only: src-container-dst-container hop.

Network Virtualization

The logical IP of a container is visible to applications or other micro-service containers, and is fixed to the identity of the container, and will not change in the lifecycle of the container. When a container moves physical location, its logical IP will not change, its physical IP changes. The physical IP of a container is invisible to applications or other micro-service containers. When a connection becomes idle and upon a time threshold, the hot-plug route flows will be time-out and deleted to release servers resource. Since hot-plug route establishment is fast, deleted inactive connection can be re-hot-plug upon reconnection. Therefore Docker servers as routers in DaoliNet work in a no-connection, no-resource-consumption style. This style of networking resource utilization matches exactly the fashion of container utilizing server CPU in that, an idle container consumes little server resource. DaoliNet is an efficient and dynamic networking technology for connecting Docker containers.

Simple Networking for Containers

In DaoliNet, Docker servers in the system are in a simple state of not-knowing-one-another, completely independent from one another. This architecture not only conserves resource utilization, but more importantly the independent relationship among the Docker servers greatly simplifies the management of resource. Extending the resource pool is as simple as plug-n-play style of adding a server to the pool and notifying the OpenFlow Controller. No complex routing table discovery and update among the routers is needed. There is also no need for Docker servers to pairwise run some packet encapsulation protocol which is not only inefficient in resource utilization but will also nullify network diagnosing and troubleshooting tools such as traceroute.

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DaoliNet Lightweight and Simple Networking for Docker