Flux Research Group / School of Computing

An Integrated Experimental Environment for Distributed Systems and Networks

Brian White, Jay Lepreau, Leigh Stoller, Robert Ricci, Shashi Guruprasad, Mac Newbold, Mike Hibler, Chad Barb, and Abhijeet Joglekar

Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI) 2002.

Networking, Testbeds


Three experimental environments traditionally support network and distributed systems research: network emulators, network simulators, and live networks. The continued use of multiple approaches highlights both the value and inadequacy of each. Netbed, a descendant of Emulab, provides an experimentation facility that integrates these approaches, allowing researchers to configure and access networks composed of emulated, simulated, and wide-area nodes and links. Netbed's primary goals are ease of use, control, and realism, achieved through consistent use of virtualization and abstraction.

By providing operating system-like services, such as resource allocation and scheduling, and by virtualizing heterogeneous resources, Netbed acts as a virtual machine for network experimentation. This paper presents Netbed's overall design and implementation and demonstrates its ability to improve experimental automation and efficiency. These, in turn, lead to new methods of experimentation, including automated parameter-space studies within emulation and straightforward comparisons of simulated, emulated, and wide-area scenarios.