B4 and After: Managing Hierarchy, Partitioning, and Asymmetry for Availability and Scale in Google's Software-Defined WAN


Private WANs are increasingly important to the operation of enterprises, telecoms, and cloud providers. For example, B4, Google’s private software-defined WAN, is larger and growing faster than our connectivity to the public Internet. In this paper, we present the five-year evolution of B4. We describe the techniques we employed to incrementally move from offering best-effort content-copy services to carrier-grade availability, while concurrently scaling B4 to accommodate 100x more traffic. Our key challenge is balancing the tension introduced by hierarchy required for scalability, the partitioning required for availability, and the capacity asymmetry inherent to the construction and operation of any large-scale network. We discuss our approach to managing this tension: i) we design a custom hierarchical network topology for both horizontal and vertical software scaling, ii) we manage inherent capacity asymmetry in hierarchical topologies using a novel traffic engineering algorithm without packet encapsulation, and iii) we re-architect switch forwarding rules via two-stage matching/hashing to deal with asymmetric network failures at scale.