Unraveling the Complexity of Network Management

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Executive Summary

Operator interviews and anecdotal evidence suggest that an operator's ability to manage a network decreases as the network becomes more complex. However, there is currently no way to systematically quantify how complex a network's design is nor how complexity may impact network management activities. This paper develops a suite of complexity models that describe the routing design and configuration of a network in a succinct fashion, abstracting away details of the underlying configuration languages. The models, and the complexity metrics arising from them, capture the difficulty of configuring control and data plane behaviors on routers. They also measure the inherent complexity of the reachability constraints that a network implements via its routing design.

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