FALCON:Differential fault localization for SDN control plane

Yinbo Yu, Xing Li, Kai Bu, Yan Chen, Jianfeng Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The control plane of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is the key component for overseeing and managing networks. As a software entity, the control plane is inevitable to involve design or logic flaws in its policy enforcement and network control, which can cause it to behave incorrectly and induce network anomalies. Existing approaches mainly focus on policy verification or fault troubleshooting, which have little fault localization capabilities for locating these flaws in production environments. In this paper, we present FALCON, the first FAult Localization tool for the SDN CONtrol plane. We design a novel causal inference mechanism based on differential checking, which symmetrically compares two system behaviors with similar processes and identifies the causality in related code execution paths with concrete contexts to explain why a fault happened in the SDN network. Our main contributions include (1) a lightweight rule-based hybrid tracing mechanism for recording system behaviors of the SDN control plane, (2) a context-aware modeling mechanism for modeling these behaviors, and (3) a differential checking mechanism for diagnosing controller faults according to formulated symptoms. Our evaluation shows that FALCON is capable of diagnosing faults in the SDN control plane with low overhead on performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106851
JournalComputer Networks
StatePublished - Oct 24 2019


  • Control plane
  • Fault localization
  • Network reliability
  • Software-defined networking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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