I believe the best way to do system research is to get your hands dirty and build your own system and test it. Below are some projects that I lead and built the systems from scratch using multiple programming languages (Java, C, Pythonm, etc.), tools (Mininet, Wireshark, NS-3, etc.), and the awesome Linux OS.
StatelessNF (Stateless Network Functions): Proposing a novel stateless architecture for network functions that uses recent advances in low-latency systems to decompose network functions into a packet processing tier and a data storage tier. In separating the state and the processing, we enable a highly dynamic management of network functions. Built a prototype using Click as the network function implementation that interfaces to the RAMCloud distributed storage to store the network function’s state. Presented a poster at NSDI-2015 and published a paper at the HotMiddlebox workshop, collocated with SIGCOMM 2015. Currently working on submitting to a top tier conference such as NSDI or SIGCOMM. Focus will be implementing stateless network functions for a variety of applications and prove out the operation at a larger scale and higher bandwidths.
QoX: Designing a framework that defines and manages the interactions between cloud services and network functions in order to dynamically and automatically configure, optimize, and secure their interactions via a continuous feedback loop. Introduced new metrics to capture the quality of cloud service and its consumption by its users.
Seit: Leading a research team to design and build an inter-tenant framework that manages the interactions between cloud services. Seit is a software-defined reputation-based framework. It consists of two primary components: (1) a set of integration and query interfaces that can be easily integrated into cloud and service providers’ management stacks, and (2) a controller that maintains reputation information using a mechanism that is adaptive to the highly dynamic environment of the cloud. The project is in progress and hoped to lead to a high quality publication.
WASP (Software-Defined Communication Layer for Hybrid Wireless Networks): Lead a research team to design and build a general communication layer inspired by software defined networking for hybrid wireless networks. Developed a centralized controller, which is reachable via the wide-area network and manages a network of mobile devices by informing each device how to handle traffic based on neighbor information provided by the mobile devices. The project led to a publication at IEEE/ACM ANCS-2014.
LIME (Live Migration of an Entire Network): Completely redeveloped a system used for live network migration (VMs and switches). The new system works as a proxy resides between SDN controller and the network, and handles the migration of the virtual switches and VMs from one physical network to another. The system is handed over to another student and is enabling a couple of new projects.