OpenFlow has emerged as the de facto control protocol to implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN). In its current form, the protocol specifies a set of fields on which it matches packets to perform actions, such as forwarding, discarding or modifying specific protocol header fields at a switch. The number of match fields has increased with every version of the protocol to extend matching capabilities, however, it is still not flexible enough to match on arbitrary packet fields which limits innovation and new protocol development with OpenFlow.
In this work, we argue that a fully flexible match structure is superior to continuously extending the number of fields to match upon. We use Berkeley Packet Filters (BPF) for packet classification to provide a protocol-independent, flexible alternative to today’s OpenFlow fixed match fields. We have implemented a prototype system and evaluated the performance of the proposed match scheme, with a focus on the time it takes to execute and the memory required to store different match filter specifications. Our prototype implementation demonstrates that line-rate arbitrary packet classification can be achieved with complex BPF programs.