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This paper presents Ethane, a new network architecture for the enterprise. Ethane allows managers to define a single network-wide fine-grain policy and then enforces it directly. Ethane couples extremely simple flow-based Ethernet switches with a centralized controller that manages the admittance and routing of flows. While radical, this design is backwards-compatible with existing hosts and switches. We have implemented Ethane in both hardware and software, supporting both wired and wireless hosts. We also show that it is compatible with existing high-fanout switches by porting it to popular commodity switching chipsets. We have deployed and managed two operational Ethane networks, one in the Stanford University Computer Science Department supporting over 300 hosts, and another within a small business of 30 hosts. Our deployment experiences have significantly affected Ethane's design.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2009