This paper considers the requirements for a scalable, easily manageable, fault-tolerant, and efficient data center network fabric. Trends in multi-core processors, end-host virtualization, and commodities of scale are pointing to future single-site data centers with millions of virtual end points. Existing layer 2 and layer 3 network protocols face some combination of limitations in such a setting: lack of scalability, difficult management, inflexible communication, or limited support for virtual machine migration. To some extent, these limitations may be inherent for Ethernet/IP style protocols when trying to support arbitrary topologies. We observe that data center networks are often managed as a single logical network fabric with a known baseline topology and growth model. We leverage this observation in the design and implementation of PortLand, a scalable, fault tolerant layer 2 routing and forwarding protocol for data center environments. Through our implementation and evaluation, we show that PortLand holds promise for supporting a “plug-and-play” large-scale, data center network.


August, 2009


  • Radhika Niranjan Mysore
  • Andreas Pamboris
  • Nathan Farrington
  • Nelson Huang
  • Pardis Miri
  • Sivasankar Radhakrishnan
  • Vikram Subramanya
  • Amin Vahdat




Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM 2009 conference on Data communication