Nets-FIND: Collaborative Research: Postmodern Internetwork Architecture

Grants and Contracts Details


NeTS-FIND: Collaborative Research: A Postmodern Internetwork Architecture Network-layer innovation has proven surprisingly difficult, in part because internetworking protocols ignore competing economic interests and because a few protocols dominate, enabling layer violations that entrench technologies. Many shortcomings of today's internetwork layer result from its inilexibility with respect to the policies of the stakeholders: users and service providers. The consequences of these failings are well-known: various hacks, layering violations, and overloadings are introduced to enforce policies and attempt to get the upper hand in various "tussles". The result is a network that is increasingly brittle, hostile to innovation, vulnerable to attack, and insensitive to concerns about accountability and privacy. We propose to design, implement, and evaluate through daily use a minimalist internetwork layer and auxiliary functionality that anticipates tussles and allows them to be played out in policy space, as opposed to in the packet-forwarding path. We term this design a postmodern internetwork architecture because it is a reaction against many established network layer design concepts. The overarching goal of the project is to make a larger portion of the network design space accessible without sacrificing the economy of scale offered by the unified Internet. Intellectual Merit Our goal is to use the post modern architecture to explore basic architectural questions. These include: • What mechanisms should be supported by the network such that any foreseeable policy requirement can be explicitly addressed? • Can routing and forwarding be completely isolated and still result in an efficient and usable network? • What forms of identities should be visible within the network, and what forms of accountability do different identities enable? • \Vhat mechanisms are needed to enable efficient access to cross-layer information and mechanisms such that lower layers can express their characteristics and upper layers can exert control downward? We propose to actually build and evaluate a complete end-to-end networking layer to help us understand feasible solutions to these questions. Our ultimate goal is to "live in" the postmodern architecture; this is a strong statement since it implies that our network supports the needs of today, with the security, manageability, and flexibility we have designed in for future evolution. Broader Impact We have a strong interest in, and solid record of, mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students. The research will directly train graduate students in networking and network security and the results will be incorporated into graduate and undergraduate courses. We also plan to continue to attract undergraduate students to participate in small independent projects related to simpler parts of our proposed work. All the software developed as part of this proposal will be made publicly available and will help other researchers as well as practitioners to better evaluate our work and to build on it. The Internet has fulfilled the potential of a complete generation of networking research by producing a global platform for innovation, commerce, and democracy. Unfortunately, the Internet also amply demonstrates the unmanageable complexity and architectural ugliness that ensue from having competing interests vie for benefits beyond those envisioned in the original design. The goal of our work is redesign the waist of the architectural hourglass such that innovation is fostered, security and accountability are enhanced, and competing interests accommodated. If successful, our proposed postmodern architecture will affect networking research at all levels, and transitively, assist in shaping future global networks and applications.
Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $399,664.00


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