March 31 – April 5 , 2019, Dagstuhl Seminar 19141

Programmable Network Data Planes


Gianni Antichi (Queen Mary University of London, GB)
Theophilus Benson (Brown University – Providence, US)
Nate Foster (Cornell University, US)
Fernando M. V. Ramos (University of Lisbon, PT)
Justine Sherry (Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, US)

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Over the past 10 years, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) has facilitated the development of a variety of novel control-plane abstractions, but its adoption has been limited by poor support for programmability in existing data planes. For example, the OpenFlow specification evolved over time to support different operator requirements, growing from 12 protocols in the original version to nearly 50 protocols in later versions. Recent advances in the design of switch ASICS, FPGAs, smart NICs, and middleboxes have shown that it is possible to build data planes that combine rich programmability and good performance.

The goal of this seminar is to bring together the researchers and practitioners from the areas of networking, systems, programming languages, verification, and hardware, to discuss the present and future of programmable network data planes. We plan to explore questions such as:

  • What is the right division of labour between control and data plane?
  • Where should packet-processing functionality reside?
  • What are the right high-level language abstractions required to program them?
  • How should programmable data planes evolve?
  • How can networks benefit from these new elements?
  • Are there trade-offs between programmability, performance, and security?

To try to answer these questions, we plan to discuss various topics during the seminar, including data plane architectures, programming languages, compilers and targets, use cases and applications, formal methods and verification tools, end-system issues, among others.

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  Gianni Antichi, Theophilus Benson, Nate Foster, Fernando M. V. Ramos, and Justine Sherry


  • Hardware
  • Networks
  • Programming Languages / Compiler


  • Networks
  • Programmable data planes
  • Programming languages
  • Network verification


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