Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A New Way to look at Networking

The Internet is based on the TCP/IP network with the assumption that its role is to provide conversation between two applications.

Security, mobility, ubiquitous computing, wireless, autonomous sensors, content distribution are all poorly served by what's available from either the research community or the marketplace. Van Jacobson argues in this Google Tech Talk that these problems go unsolved due to our tunnel vision and not because of their intrinsic difficulty. Simply changing our point of view may make many hard things easy.

Jacobson tells us a Brief History of Networking:
  • Generation 1: the phone system (focus on the wires)
  • Generation 2: the Internet (focus on the endpoints)
  • Generation 3? dissemination (focus on the data)
He summarizes the problems of TCP/IP as:
  • "Connected" is a binary attribute: you are either part of the internet and can talk to everythig or you are isolated.
  • Connecting requires a globally known, unique IP address that's topologically stable on routing time scales (minutes to hours).
  • Connecting is a heavy weight operation.
  • The net doesn't like things that move.
  • The transport protocols hate broadcast.
Jacobson envisions the third generation dissemination networking like this:
  • Data is requested, by name, using any and all means available (IP, VPN tunnels, zeroconf addresses, multicast, proxies, etc.).
  • Anything that hears the request and has a valid copy of the data can respond.
  • The returned data is signed, and optionally secured, so its integrity and association with the name can be validated.

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