Ravel: A database-defined network

Anduo Wang, Xueyuan Mei, Jason Croft, Matthew Caesar, Brighten Godfrey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


SDN's logically centralized control provides an insertion point for programming the network. While it is generally agreed that higherlevel abstractions are needed to make that programming easy, there is little consensus on what are the "right" abstractions. Indeed, as SDN moves beyond its initial specialized deployments to broader use cases, it is likely that network control applications will require diverse abstractions that evolve over time. To this end, we champion a perspective that SDN control fundamentally revolves around data representation. We discard any application-specific structure that might be outgrown by new demands. Instead, we adopt a plain data representation of the entire network - network topology, forwarding, and control applications - and seek a universal data language that allows application programmers to transform the primitive representation into any high-level representations presented to applications or network operators. Driven by this insight, we present a system, Ravel, that implements an entire SDN network control infrastructure within a standard SQL database. In Ravel, network abstractions take the form of user-defined SQL views expressed by SQL queries that can be added on the fly. A key challenge in realizing this approach is to orchestrate multiple simultaneous abstractions that collectively affect the same underlying data. To achieve this, Ravel enhances the database with novel data integration mechanisms that merge the multiple views into a coherent forwarding behavior. Moreover, Ravel is exposed to applications through the one simple, familiar and highly interoperable SQL interface. While this is an ambitious long-term goal, our prototype built on the PostgreSQL database exhibits promising performance even for large scale networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSymposium on Software Defined Networking (SDN) Research, SOSR 2016
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450334518
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016
EventSymposium on Software Defined Networking (SDN) Research, SOSR 2016 - Santa Clara, United States
Duration: Mar 14 2016Mar 15 2016

Publication series

NameSymposium on Software Defined Networking (SDN) Research, SOSR 2016


OtherSymposium on Software Defined Networking (SDN) Research, SOSR 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Clara


  • Programming Abstraction
  • SQL Database
  • Software-Defined Networks
  • Views

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


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