WP6 - Networking of Information (NetInf)

The traditional role of networking has been to interconnect remotely located devices like computers or telephones. This function is increasingly recognised to be ill-adapted and inadequate for the information-centric applications that currently generate the vast majority of Internet traffic.

In 4WARD we take a different approach, instead of the node-centric paradigm, we adopt an information-centric paradigm. In this paradigm, the communication abstraction presented to applications is based on transfer of application data objects instead of the end-to-end reliable byte-stream used by the majority of applications today.

The current semantic overload of the IP-address as both node identifier and locator, indicting the current point of attachment in the network topology, is replaced by a clear separation of information self-certifying object identifiers and locators. Several models for abstracting the location and focusing on networking between (mobile) hosts have been proposed, e.g., the Host Identity Protocol (HIP), the Internet Indirection Infrastructure (I3), the Layered Naming Architecture and the NodeID proposal. 4WARD will build on this prior work and and by taking it one step further, we will be able to design a networking architecture where mobility, multihoming and security is an intrinsic part of the network architecture rather than add-on solutions. It will also allow users to gain increased control over incoming traffic, this enables new possibilities for defending against denial of service attacks. The self-securing property also intrinsically facilitates possibilities for effective content protection and access rights management.

The need for information-centric networking is manifested by the increasing number of overlays that are created for the purpose of information dissemination (e.g., Akamai CDN, BitTorrent, Skype, and Joost). Their objective is to distribute information by relying on users to exchange pieces of data between themselves, massively distributing the load away from any central server, and scaling automatically to any group size. 4WARD will integrate much of the functionality of these overlays, including caching functions where the ‘copies’ are as the originals. in a common and open information networking service that can generally be used by applications.

4WARD extends the networking of information concept beyond “traditional” information objects (e.g., web pages, music/movie files, streaming media) to conversational services like telephony, and store-and-forward services like email. Special attention will be paid to how this affects wireless communication and to how services can be made to work in an environment with a heterogeneous and disruptive communication infrastructure.. Also how networking of information can extend to include real world objects, and by this enabling new types of services, will be investigated.

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