Symmetry-Aware SFC Framework for 5G Networks

Network Function Virtualization (NFV), network slicing, and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are the key enablers of the fifth generation of mobile networks (5G). Service Function Chaining (SFC) plays a critical role in delivering sophisticated service per slice and enables traffic traversal through a set of ordered Service Functions (SFs). In fully symmetric SFCs, the uplink and downlink traffic traverse the same SFs, while in asymmetric SFC, the reverse-path may not necessarily cross the same SFs in the reverse order. Proposed approaches in the literature support either full symmetry or no symmetry. In this article, we discuss the partial symmetry concept that enforces the reverse path to traverse the SFs only when needed. Our contribution is threefold. First, we propose a novel SFC framework with an abstraction layer that can dynamically create partial or full symmetric SFCs across multiple administrative and technological cloud/edge domains. According to the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and desired objectives specified at the network slice intent request, the abstraction layer would automatise different SFC operations, but specifically generating partial or full symmetric SFCs. Second, we propose an algorithm to dynamically calculate the reverse path for an SFC by including only SFs requiring symmetry. Third, we implement a prototype application to test the performance of the partial symmetry algorithm. The obtained results show the advantages of partial symmetry in reducing both the SFC delivery time and the load on VNFs.