On the Cost-Optimality Trade-off for Service Function Chain Reconfiguration

Optimal placement of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) in virtualized data centers enhances the overall performance of Service Function Chains (SFCs) and decreases the operational costs for mobile network operators. Maintaining an optimal placement of VNFs under changing load requires a dynamic reconfiguration that includes adding or removing VNF instances, changing the resource allocation of VNFs, and re-routing corresponding service flows. However, such reconfiguration may lead to notable service disruptions and impose additional overhead on the VNF infrastructure, especially when reconfiguration entails state or VNF migration. On the other hand, not changing the existing placement may lead to high operational costs. In this paper, we investigate the trade-off between the reconfiguration of SFCs and the optimality of the resulting placement and service flow (re)routing. We model different reconfiguration costs related to the migration of stateful VNFs and solve a joint optimization problem that aims to minimize both the total cost of the VNF placement and the reconfiguration cost necessary for repairing a suboptimal placement. Numerical results show that a small number of reconfiguration operations can significantly reduce the operational cost of the VNF infrastructure; however, too much reconfiguration may not pay off should heavy costs be involved.


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