Online Network Flow Optimization for Multi-Grade Service Chains
We study the problem of in-network execution of data analytic services using multi-grade VNF chains. The nodes host VNFs offering different and possibly time-varying gains for each stage of the chain, and our goal is to maximize the analytics performance while minimizing the data transfer and processing costs. The VNFs' performance is revealed only after their execution, since it is data-dependent or controlled by third-parties, while the service requests and network costs might also vary with time. We devise an operation algorithm that learns, on the fly, the optimal routing policy and the composition and length of each chain. Our algorithm combines a lightweight sampling technique and a Lagrange-based primal-dual iteration, allowing it to be scalable and attain provable optimality guarantees. We demonstrate the performance of the proposed algorithm using a video analytics service, and explore how it is affected by different system parameters. Our model and optimization framework is readily extensible to different types of networks and services.