Data centre networks are increasingly programmable, with application-specific network services proliferating, from custom load-balancers to middleboxes providing caching and aggregation. Developers must currently implement these services using traditional low-level APIs, which neither support natural operations on application data nor provide efficient performance isolation.
We describe FLICK, a framework for the programming and execution of application-specific network services on multi-core CPUs. Developers write network services in the FLICK language, which offers high-level processing constructs and application-relevant data types. FLICK programs are translated automatically to efficient, parallel task graphs, implemented in C++ on top of a user-space TCP stack. Task graphs have bounded resource usage at runtime, which means that the graphs of multiple services can execute concurrently without interference using cooperative scheduling. We evaluate FLICK with several services (an HTTP load-balancer, a Memcached router and a Hadoop data aggregator), showing that it achieves good performance while reducing development effort.