NetInf Overview

Information-Centric Networking (ICN) is a promising approach for evolving the Internet towards an infrastructure that can provide an optimal service for accessing named data objects  -- one of the dominant applications today. In general, ICN is providing access to named data objects as a first class networking primitive and is leveraging unique naming techniques and ubiquitous in-network caching to provide more ecient and robust networking services than current approaches allow.

The Scalable and Adaptive Internet Solutions (SAIL) project has been developing the Network of Information (NetInf) approach that is aiming at a highly scalable network architecture with particular support for robustness and reliability as well as at multi-technology/multi-domain interoperability. SAIL NetInf is putting particular emphasis on enabling networks that go beyond current de-facto architectures for broadband/mobile access and data center networks. While we want to support those deployment scenarios and their corresponding business requirements, we also want networks to go beyond inherited telco constraints and assumptions.

For example, ICN can be made to work with the existing network infrastructure, name resolution and security infrastructure -- but that does not mean that all ICN networks should depend on such infrastructure. Instead, we want to leverage local, decentralised communication options to arrive at a solution that is easy to deploy at small scale and is able to extend to global scale but still resilient against network partitions, intermittent connectivity and potentially longer communication delays.

Likewise, ICN is often characterised as a generalised content distribution approach, but in fact, has benefits beyond content distribution { for example, better security properties through Named Data Object (NDO) security as well as better performance and robustness through in-network caching and localised transport strategies.

We believe that NetInf is going beyond next-generation CDN approach will finally result in a network that better accommodates current mass-market applications (for example for content distribution) and future mass-market applications such as smart-object communications in constrained networks.

Key NetInf elements have been published as specifications, such as the NetInf protocol speciication [1] — a conceptual specification of a NetInf Node-to-Node communication protocol that includes an object model for Named Data Objects (NDOs), a detailed description of the Convergence Layer approach, as well as the specification of HTTP and UDP Convergence Layers. The NetInf protocol work was driven by the objective to build systems that actually work in a vari-ety of scenarios, and for that we have followed a prototyping-driven approach. This led to a set of additional specifications such as the ni: naming format [2] and different Convergence Layer  specifications.


[1] D. Kutscher, S. Farrell, and E. Davies. The NetInf Protocol. Internet-Draft draft-kutscher-icnrg-netinf-proto, Internet Engineering Task Force, October 2012. Work in progress.

[2] Stephen Farrell, Dirk Kutscher, Christian Dannewitz, Börje Ohlman, and Phillip Hallam-Baker. Naming Things With Hashes. Internet Draft draft-farrell-decade-ni, Work in progress, August 2012