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IEEE MetaCom Workshop on Decentralized, Data-Oriented Networking for the Metaverse (DORM)

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IEEE MetaCom Workshop on Decentralized, Data-Oriented Networking for the Metaverse (DORM)

Workshop page at IEEE MetaCom

Organizers

  • Jeff Burke, UCLA
  • Dirk Kutscher, HKUST(GZ)
  • Dave Oran, Network Systems Research & Design
  • Lixia Zhang, UCLA

Workshop Description

The DORM workshop is a forum to explore new directions and early research results on Metaverse system architecture, protocols, and security, along a data-oriented design direction that can encourage and facilitate decentralized realizations. Here we broadly interpret the phrase “Metaverse” as a new phase of networking with multi-dimensional shared views in open realms.

Most prototype implementations of such systems today replicate the social media platform model: they run on cloud servers offered by a small number of providers, and have identities and trust management anchored at these servers. Consequently, all communications are mediated through such servers, together with extensive CDN overlay infrastructures or the equivalent.

Although the cloud services may be extended to edges to address performance and delay issues, the centralization of control power that stems from this cloud-centric approach can be problematic from a societal perspective. It also reflects a significant semantic mismatch between the existing address-based network support and many aspirations for open realm applications and interoperability: the applications, by and large, operate on named data principles at the application layer, but need to deploy multiple layers of middleware services, which are provider-specific, to bridge the gap. These added complexities prohibit new ways of interacting (leveraging new data formats such as USD and gITF) and are not conducive to flexible distributed computing in the edge-to-cloud continuum.

This workshop solicits efforts that explore new directions in metaverse realization and work that takes a principled approach to key topics in the areas of 1) Networking as the Platform, 2) Objects and Experiences, and 3) Trust and Transactions without being constrained by inherited platforms.

Networking as the Platform

Metaverse systems will rely on a variety of communication patterns such as client-server RPC, massively scalable multi-destination communication, publish-subscribe etc. In systems that are designed with a cloud-based, centralized architecture in mind, such interactions are typically mediated by central servers and supported by overlay CDN infrastructure, with operational inflexibility and lacking optimization mechanisms, for example in order to leverage specific network link layer capabilities such as broadcast/multicast features. Underlying reliance on existing stacks also introduces familiar complications in providing disruption-tolerant, mobile-friendly extended reality applications, limiting their viability for eventual use in critical infrastructure and require significant engineering support to use in demanding entertainment applications, such as large-scale live events.

This workshop seeks research on new strategies for Metaverse system design that can promote innovation by lowering barriers to entry for new applications that perform robustly under a variety of conditions. We solicit research on Metaverse system design that addresses architectural and protocol-level issues without the reliance on a centralized cloud-based architecture. Instead, we expect the DORM workshop submissions to start with a distributed system assumption, focusing on individual protocol and security elements that enable decentralized Metaverse realizations.

Many Metaverse-relevant interactions such as video streaming and distribution of event data today inherently rely on abstractions for accessing named data objects such as video chunks, for example in DASH-based video streaming. The DORM workshop will therefore particularly invite contributions that explore new systems and protocol designs that leverage that principle, thus exploring new opportunities to re-imagine the relationship between application/network and link/physical layer protocols in order to better support Metaverse system implementations. This could include work on new hypermedia concepts based on the named data principle and cross-layer designs for simplifying and optimizing the implementation and operation of such protocols.

We expect such systems to as well be better suited to elegant, efficient integration of computing into the network, thus providing more flexible and adaptive platforms for offloading computation and supporting more elaborate data dissemination strategies.

From Objects to Experiences

In our perceived Metaverse/open realm systems, there are different existing and emerging media representations and encodings such as current video encodings as well as scene and 3D object description and transmission formats such as USD and glTF. Similar to previous developments in the networked audio/video area, it is interesting to investigate opportunities for new scene and 3D object representation formats that are suitable not only for efficient creation and file-like unidirectional transmission but also for streaming, granular composition and access, de-structuring, efficient multi-destination transmission, possibly using network coding techniques.

The workshop is therefore soliciting contributions that explore a holistic approach to media/object representation within network/distributed computing, enabling better performance, composability and robustness of future distributed Metaverse systems. Submissions that explore cross-layer approaches to supporting emerging media types such as volumetric video and neural network codecs are encouraged, as are considerations of how code implementing object behaviors and interactions can be supported - providing a path to the interoperable experiences expressed in various Metaverse visions.

Trust and Transactions

Finally, distributed open realm systems need innovative solutions in identity management and security support that enable interoperation among multiple systems including a diverse population of users. We note that mechanisms to support trust are inherently coupled with various identities, from "real world" identities to application-specific identities that users may adopt in different contexts. Proposed solutions need to consider not just media asset exchange but also the interactions among objects, and the data flows needed to support it.

The workshop solicits contributions that identify specific technical challenges, for example system bootstrapping, trust establishment, authenticated information discovery, and that propose new approaches to the identified challenges. Researchers are encouraged to consider cross-layer designs that address disconnects between layers of trust in many current systems - e.g., the reliance on third-party certificate authorities for authentications, the inherent trust in connections rather than the objects themselves, that tends to generate brittleness for even local communications if connectivity to the global network is compromised.

Call for Papers

The Decentralized Data-Oriented Networking for the Metaverse (DORM) workshop is intended as a forum to explore new directions and early research results on the system architecture, protocols, and security to support Metaverse applications, focusing on data-oriented, decentralized system designs. We view Metaverse as a new phase of networking with multi-dimensional shared views in open realms.

Most Metaverse systems today replicate the social media platform model, i.e., they assume a cloud platform provider-based system architecture where identities and the trust among them is anchored via a centralized administrative structure and where communication is mediated through servers and an extensive CDN overlay infrastructure operated by that administration. The centralization that stems from this approach can be problematic both from a control and from a performance & efficiency perspective. Despite operating on named data principles conceptually, such systems typically exhibit traditional layering approaches that prohibit new ways of interacting (leveraging new data formats such as USD and gITF) and that are not conducive for flexible distributed computing in the edge-to-cloud continuum.

This workshop solicits work that takes a principled approach at key research topics in the areas of 1) Networking as the Platform, 2) Objects and Experiences, and 3) Trust and Transactions without being constrained by inherited platform designs, including but no limited to:

  • Distributed Metaverse architectures
  • Computing in the network as an integral component for better communication and interaction support
  • Application-layer protocols for a rich set of interaction styles in open realms
  • Supporting Metaverse via data-oriented techniques
  • Security, Privacy and Identity Management in Metaverse systems
  • New concepts for improved network support for Metaverse systems, e.g., through facilitating ubiquitous multipath forwarding and multi-destination delivery
  • Cross-layer designs
  • Emerging scene description and media formats
  • Quality of Experience for Metaverse applications
  • Distributed consensus and state synchronization
  • Security, Privacy and Identity Management in Metaverse systems

Given the breadth and emerging nature of the field, all papers should include the articulation of a specific vision of Metaverse that provides clarifying assumptions for the technical content.

Submissions and Formatting

The workshop invites submission of manuscripts with early and original research results that have not been previously published or posted on public websites or that are not currently under review by another conference or journal. Submitted manuscripts must be prepared according to IEEE Computer Society Proceedings Format (double column, 10pt font, letter paper) and submitted in the PDF format. The manuscript submitted for review should be no longer than 6 pages without references. Reviewing will be double-blind. Submissions must not reveal the authors’ names and their affiliations and avoid obvious self-references. Accepted and presented papers will be published in the IEEE MetaCom 2023 Conference Proceedings and included in IEEE Xplore.

Manuscript templates can be found here. All submissions to IEEE MetaCom 2023 must be uploaded to EasyChair at https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=metacom2023.

Organization Committee

  • Jeff Burke, UCLA
  • Dirk Kutscher, HKUST(GZ)
  • Dave Oran, Network Systems Research & Design
  • Lixia Zhang, UCLA

Technical Program Committee

  • Alex Afanasyev, Florida International University
  • Hitoshi Asaeda, NICT
  • Ali Begen, Ozyegin University
  • Taejoong Chung, Virginia Tech
  • Serge Fdida, Sorbonne University Paris
  • Carlos Guimarães, ZettaScale Technology SARL
  • Peter Gusav, UCLA
  • Toru Hasagawa, Osaka University
  • Jungha Hong, ETRI
  • Kenji Kanai, Waseda University
  • Ruidong Li, Kanazawa University
  • Spyridon Mastorakis, University of Nebraska Omaha
  • Kazuhisa Matsuzono, NICT
  • Marie-Jose Montpetit, Concordia University Montreal
  • Jörg Ott, Technical University Munich
  • Yiannis Psarras, Protocol Labs
  • Eve Schooler, Intel
  • Tian Song, Beijing Institute of Technology
  • Kazuaki Ueda, KDDI Research
  • Cedric Westphal, Futurewei
  • Edmund Yeh, Northeastern University
  • Jiadong Yu, HKUST(GZ)
  • Yu Zhang, Harbin Institute of Technology

Important Dates

  • March 20, 2023, Paper submission deadline
  • April 20, 2023 Notification of paper acceptance
  • May 10, 2023, Camera-ready paper submissions

Submission Link

https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=metacom2023

Written by dkutscher

January 16th, 2023 at 6:50 pm

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ACM ICN-2022 Highlights

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The ACM Information-Centric Networking 2022 Conference took place in Osaka from September 19 to 21 2022, hosted by Osaka University. It was a three-day conference with tutorials, one keynote, two panel session, and paper and poster/demo presentations. The highlights (with links to papers and presentations) from my perspective were the following:

Keynote by Dave Oran: Travels with ICN – The road traversed and the road ahead

Dave Oran presented an overview of his research experience over the last ten years that was informed by many seminal research contributions on ICN and his career in the network vendor sector as well as in standards and research bodies such as the IETF and IRTF.

The keynote's theme was about disentagling the application and network layer aspects of ICN, which led to interesting perspectives on some of the previous design decisions in CCNx and NDN.

As ilustrated in the figure below, the more networking-minded ICN topics are typically connected to features and challenges of building packet-forwarding networks based on the principle of accessing named data. The actual research questions are generally not different to those of IP networks (routing, mobility etc.), but ICN provides a significant potential to re-think and often improve over the specific approaches in IP networks due to its core properties such as object security and symmetric, stateful forwarding.

Information-centric applications development in contrast is often concerned with general naming concepts, namespace design, and security features that are enabled by namespace design and application layer object security such as trust schema and provenance.

The message in Dave's talk was not that these are completely disjunct areas that should best be investigated independent of each other, but rather that the ICN's fascination and disruptive potential is based on the potential for rethinking layer boundaries and contemplating a better function split between applications, network stacks on endpoints, and forwarding elements in the network. In his talk, Dave focused on

  • the Interaction of consumers & networking producers of data;
  • routing;
  • forwarding; and
  • congestion control.

He discussed many lessons learned as well as open research and new ideas for all of these topics – please refer to the presentation slides for details.

One particularly interesting current ICN research topic is distributed computing and ICN architectures & interaction models for that. ICN's name-based forwarding model and object security provide very interesting options for simplifying systems such as microservices, RESTful services and distributed application coordination. Alluding to our work on Reflexive Forwarding, Dave offered two main lessons learned from building corresponding communication abstractions:

  1. Content fetch with two-way handshakes is a poor match for doing distributed computations.

  2. Extensions to the base protocols can give a flexible underpinning for multiple interaction models

This raises the question of the slim waist of ICN, i.e., as research progresses, what should be the minimal feature set and what is the right extensibility model?

Dave concluded his talk with a few interesting questions:

  • how can the networking insights we’ve gained from ICN protocols inform the construction of Information Centric systems and applications?

    • Whether and how to utilize name-based routing to achieve robustness and performance scaling for distributed applications?
    • Where does caching help or not help and how to best utilize caches?
    • Does pushing Names down to lower layers help latency? Resilience? Fairness?
  • How can the insights we’ve gained from applying Information Centricity in applications inform what we bother to change the network to do, and what not?

    • Do things like multipath forwarding, in-network retransmission, or reflexive forwarding actually enable applications that are hard or infeasible to do without them?
    • Is there a big win for wireless networks in terms of optimizing a scarce resource or having more robust and responsive mobility characteristics?

More details in the presentation slides

Panel: ICN and the Metaverse – Challenges and Opportunities

I had the pleasure of being in a panel with Jeff Burke (UCLA) and Geoff Houston (APNIC), moderated by Alexander Afanasyev (Florida International University) discussing Metaverse challenges and opportunities for ICN.

Questions on Metaverse and ICN

Large-scale interactive and networked AR/VR/XR systems are now referred to as Metaverse, and the general assumption is that corresponding applications will be hosted on platforms, similar to those that are employed for web and social media applications today.

In the web, the platform approach has led to an accelerated development and growth of a few popular mainstream systems. On the other hand, several problems have been observed such as ubiquitous surveillance, lock-in effects, centralization, innovation stagnation, and cost overhead for achieving the required performance.

While these phenomena may have both technical and economic root causes, we would like to discuss:

  • How should Metaverse systems be designed, and what would be important architectural pillars?
  • What is the potential for re-imagining Metaverse with information-centric concepts and protocols?
  • Would ICN enable or lead to profound architecturally unique approaches – or would protocols such as NDN be a drop-in replacement for QUIC, HTTP3 etc.?
  • What are the challenges for building ICN-based Metaverse systems, and what it missing in today's ICN platforms?

As input to the discussion, Jeff Burke and myself (together with Dave Oran) submitted two papers:

Research Directions

Jeff offered a list of really interesting research directions based on the notion that in the Metaverse, host-based identifiers and end-to-end connections between hosts would be abstracted even further away than in today’s web. Client devices would fade into the background in favor of the data supplanting or augmenting the real world. Thus, a metaverse consisted of information not associated with the physical world unless it needed to describe or provide interaction with it. The experiential semantics were viscerally information-centric, which would help to motivate the ICN research opportunities such as:

  • Persistence: The information forming a metaverse persists across sessions and users.

  • “Content” and Interoperability: Designing the relationships among metaverse-layer objects and the named packets that an ICN network moves and stores.

  • Naming and Spatial Organization: How to best integrate knowledge from research in databases and related fields where these challenges have been considered for decades.

  • Trust, Provenance, and Transactions: Using ICN to disentangle metaverse objects from the security provided by a source or a given channel of communication, with the named data representation secured at the time of publication instead.

RESTful ICN

In our paper on RESTFul ICN, Dave Oran and I asked the question: given that most web applications are concerned with transferring named units of data (web resources, video chunks etc.), can the REST paradigm be married with the data-oriented, receiver-driven operation of Information-Centric Networking (ICN), leveraging attractive ICN benefits such as consumer anonymity, stateful and symmetric forwarding, flow-balance in-network caching, and implicit object security?

We argue that this is feasible given some of the recent advances in ICN protocol development and that the resulting suite is simpler and potentially having better performance and robustness properties. Our sketch of an ICN based protocol framework addresses secure and efficient establishment and continuation of REST communication sessions, without giving up key ICN properties, such as consumer anonymity and flow balance.

Panel Discussion

The panel discussed the current socio-economic realities in the Internet and the Web and explored opportunities (and non-opportunities) for redesigns, and how ICN could be a potential enabler for that.

My personal view is that most of the potential dystopian outcomes of future Metaverse applications are independent from the enabling networking technology and the technology stack at large (security, naming etc.). It is really important to understand the actual objectives of a specific systems, i.e., who operates to which ends, similar to so-called social networks today. If the main objective is to create a more powerful advertising and manipulation platform, then such as system will exhibit yet unimaginable surveillance and tracking mechanisms – independent of the underlying network stack.

With respect to the technical design, I agree to Jeff Burke's proposed research directions. One particularly interesting question will be how to design a Information-Centric communication stack and corresponding APIs. I argued that it is not necessary to replicate existing interaction styles and protocol stacks from the TCP/IP (or QUIC) world. Instead it should be more interesting and productive to discuss the fundamentally needed interaction classes such as

  • High-performance multi-destination transfer
  • Group communication and synchronization
  • High-performance session-oriented communication with servers and peers (for which we proposed RESTful ICN).

The panel then also discussed how likely non-mainstream Metaverse systems would be adopted and whether the current socio-economic environment actually allows for that level of permissionless innovation – considering the network effects that Metaverse systems would be subjected to, much in the same way as so-called social networks.

Panel: Hard Lessons for ICN from IP Multicast?

Thomas Schmidt (HAW Hamburg) moderated a panel discussion with Jon Crowcroft (University of Cambridge), Dave Oran, and George Xylomenos (Athens University of Economics and Business) as panelists.

With the continued shift towards more and more live video streaming services over the Internet, scalable multi-destination delivery has become more relevant again. For example, the recently chartered IETF Working Group on Media over QUIC (MOQ), is addressing the need for scalable multi-destination delivery and the unavailability of IP multicast as a platform by developing a QUIC-based overlay system that essentially uses information-centric concepts, albeit in a QUIC overlay network. Such system would consist of a network of QUIC proxies, connected via individual QUIC connections to emulate request forwarding and chunk-based video data distribution. Considering the non-negligible overhead and complexity one might ask the question whether live video streaming over the Internet could be served by a better approach. Questions like this are being asked by the network service provider community (ISPs have to bear a lot of the overhead and overlay complexity) as well, for example in this APNIC blog posting by Jake Holland titled Why inter-domain multicast now makes sense.

This panel was inspired by a statement paper submitted by Jon Crowcroft titled [Hard lessons for ICN from IP multicast (https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3517212.3558086). In this brief statement, Jon traced the line of thought from Internet multicast through to Information Centric Networking, and used this to outline what he thinks should have been the priorities in ICN work from the start.

The statement paper discusses a few problems with IP multicast that have been largely acknowledged such as difficulties in creating viable business models, unsolved security problems such as IP multicast being used as a DDOS platform, and interdomain multicast that proven difficult to establish due multicast routing scaling problems and the lack of robust pricing models. The second part of the paper is then some ICN work that has been addressing some of the mentioned issued.

The paper gave rise to an interesting and controversial discussion at the panel. The most important point is IMO to characterize ICN communication model correctly: it is correct that the combination of stateful forwarding, Interest aggregation, and caching enables an implicit multi-destination delivery service. It is implicit, because consumers that ask for the same units of named data within a time frame at the order of the network RTT will send equivalent Interest messages so that forwarders can multicast the data delivery to the faces they received such Interests from. In conjunction with opportunistic (or managed) caching by forwarders this would enable a very elegant multi-destination delivery services that can even cater to a wider variation of Interest sending times, as "late" Interest would be answered from caches.

This is a different service model compared to the push-based IP multicast model. ICN does not provide such as service in the first place, but is just applying its regular receiver-driven mode of operation which elegantly works well in the case of multiple consumers asking for the same data. It is probably fair to say that the ICN model caters to media-delivery use cases (one stream delivered to multiple consumers) but does not try to provide the more general IP multicast service model (Any Source Multicast). However, by extension, the ICN approach could be applied to multi-source scenarios as well – the system would build implicit delivery trees from any source to current consumers, without requiring extra machinery.

With this, if you like, simpler service model, ICN does fundamentally not inherit many of the problems that prohibit IP multicast in the Internet: the system is receiver-driven which simply eliminates DDOS threats (on the packet level). It is also not clear, whether ICN would need anything special to provide this service in inter-domain settings (except for general ICN routing in the Internet, which is a general,
but different research question).

Acknowledging this conceptual and practical difference, there are obviously other interesting research questions that ICN multi-destination delivery entails, for example performance and jitter reduction in the presence of caching and other transport questions.

Overall, a good time to talk about multi-destination delivery and to keep thinking about missing pieces and potential future work in ICN.

Enabling Distributed Applications

One paper presentation session was focused on distributed applications – a very interesting and relevant ICN research area. It featured three great papers:

SoK: The evolution of distributed dataset synchronization solutions in NDN

This paper by Philipp Moll, Varun Patil, Lan Wang, and Lixia Zhang systemizes the knowledge about distributed dataset synchronisation in ICN, or Sync in short, which, according to the authors, plays the role of a transport service in the Named Data Networking (NDN) architecture. A number of NDN Sync protocols have been developed over the last decade. For this paper, they conducted a systematic examination of NDN Sync protocol designs, identified common design patterns, revealed insights behind different design approaches,
and collected lessons learned over the years.

Sync enables new ways of thinking about coordination and general communication in distributed ICN systems, and I encourage everyone to read this for a good overview of the different proposed systems and their properties.

There are also some open research questions around Sync, such as large-scale applicability, alternative to using Interest multicast for discovery and more – a good topic to work on!

DICer: distributed coordination for in-network computations

This paper by Uthra Ambalavanan, Dennis Grewe, Naresh Nayak, Liming Liu, Nitinder Mohan, and Jörg Ott is a nice product of the Piccolo project that had the pleasure to set up and co-lead.

Application domains such as automotive and the Internet of Things may benefit from in-network computing to reduce the distance data travels through the network and the response time. Information Centric Networking (ICN) based compute frameworks such as Named Function Networking (NFN) are promising options due to their location independence and loosely-coupled communication model.

However, unlike current operations, such solutions may benefit from orchestration across the compute nodes to use the available resources in the network better. In this paper, the authors adopted the State Vector Synchronization (SVS), an application dataset synchronization protocol in ICN, to enhance the neighborhood knowledge of in-network compute nodes in a distributed fashion. They designed distributed coordination for in-network computation (DICer) that assists the service deployments by improving the resolution of compute requests.

Kua: a distributed object store over named data networking

This paper by Varun Patil, Hemil Desai, and Lixia Zhang decribes a distributed object store in NDN.

Applications such as machine learning training systems or log collection generate and consume large amounts of data. Object storage systems provide a simple abstraction to store and access such large datasets. These datasets are typically larger than the capacities of individual storage servers, and require fault tolerance through replication. This paper presents Kua, a distributed object storage system built over Named Data Networking (NDN).

The data-centric nature of NDN helps Kua maintain a simple design while catering to requirements of storing large objects, providing fault tolerance, low latency and strong consistency guarantees, along with data-centric security.

ICN Applications and Wireless Networking

The session on ICN Applications and Wireless Networking features four papers:

N-DISE: NDN-based data distribution for large-scale data-intensive science

This paper by Yuanhao Wu, Faruk Volkan Mutlu, et al. describes an NDN for Data-Intensive Science Experiments (N-DISE).

To meet unprecedented challenges faced by the world’s largest data- and network-intensive science programs, the authors designed and implemented a new, highly efficient and field-tested data distribution, caching, access and analysis system for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) high energy physics (HEP) network and other major science programs. They developed a hierarchical Named Data Networking (NDN) naming scheme for HEP data, implemented new consumer and producer applications to interface with the high-performance NDNDPDK forwarder, and buildt on recently developed high-throughput NDN caching and forwarding methods.

The experiemts in this paper include delivering LHC data over the wide area network (WAN) testbed at throughputs exceeding 31 Gbps between Caltech and StarLight, with dramatically reduced download time.

Building a secure mHealth data sharing infrastructure over NDN

In this paper Saurab Dulal, Nasir Ali, et al. describes an NDN-based mHealth system called mGuard.

Exploratory efforts in mobile health (mHealth) data collection and sharing have achieved promising results. However, fine-grained contextual access control and real-time data sharing are two of the remaining challenges in enabling temporally-precise mHealth intervention. The authors have developed an NDN based system called mGuard to address these challenges. mGuard provides a pub-sub API to let users subscribe to real-time mHealth data streams, and uses name-based access control policies and key-policy attribute-based encryption to grant fine-grained data access to authorized users based on contextual information.

Delay-tolerant ICN and its application to LoRa

I have co-authored this paper together with Peter Kietzmann, José Alamos, Thomas C. Schmidt, and Matthias Wählisch.

Connecting low-power long-range wireless networks, such as LoRa, to the Internet imposes significant challenges because of the vastly longer round-trip-times (RTTs) in these constrained networks. In our paper on "Delay-Tolerant ICN and Its Application to LoRa" we present an Information-Centric Networking (ICN) protocol framework that enables robust and efficient delay-tolerant communication to edge networks, including but not limited to LoRa. Our approach provides ICN-idiomatic communication between networks with vastly different RTTs for different use cases. We applied this framework to LoRa, enabling end-to-end consumer-to-LoRa-producer interaction over an ICN-Internet and asynchronous ("push") data production in the LoRa edge. Instead of using LoRaWAN, we implemented an IEEE 802.15.4e DSME MAC layer on top of the LoRa PHY layer and ICN protocol mechanisms in the RIOT operating system.

For our experiments, we connected constrained LoRa nodes and gateways on IoT hardware platforms to a regular, emulated ICN network and performed a series of measurements that demonstrate robustness and efficiency improvements compared to standard ICN.

iCast: dynamic information-centric cross-layer multicast for wireless edge network

This paper by Tianlong Li, Tian Song, Yating Yang, and Jike Yang presents iCast, short for dynamic information-centric multicast, to enable dynamic multicast in the link layer.

Native multicast support in Named Data Networking (NDN)
is an attractive feature, as multicast content delivery can reduce the redundant traffic and improve the network performance, especially in wireless edge networks. With their visibility into Interest and Data names, NDN routers automatically aggregate the same requests from different end hosts and establish network-layer multicast. However,
the current link-layer multicast based on host-centric MAC address management is inflexible. Consequently, supporting NDN dynamic multicast with the current link-layer architecture remains a challenge.

iCast enables dynamic multicast in the link layer based on three main contributions:

  1. iCast integrates NDN native multicast with the host-centric link layer while maintaining the host-centric properties of the current link layer.
  2. iCast achieves per-packet dynamic multicast in the link layer, and the authors further propose a hash-based iCast variant for dynamic connection.
  3. iCast has been implemented in a real testbed, and the evaluation results show that iCast reduces up to 59.53% traffic compared with vanilla NDN. iCast bridges the gap between NDN multicast and the host-centric link-layer multicast.

Written by dkutscher

September 27th, 2022 at 3:29 pm

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Dagstuhl Seminar on Compute-First Networking

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Eve Schooler, Jon Crowcroft, Phil Eardley, and myself organized an online Dagstuhl seminar on Compute-First Networking earlier in June that was attended by an excellent group of researchers from distributed computing, networking and data analytics communities.

Dagstuhl has now published the seminar report that discusses new perspectives on doing Computing in the Networking, use cases and that includes many references to relevant literature and on-going projects in the field.

Executive Summary

Edge- and more generally In-Network Computing are key elements in many traditional content distribution services today, typically connecting cloud-based computing to consumers. The advent of new programmable hardware platforms, research and wide deployment of distributed computing technologies for data processing, as well as new exciting use cases such as distributed Machine Learning and Metaverse-style ubiquitous computing are now inspiring research of more fine-granular and more principled approaches to distributed computing in the "Edge-To-Cloud Continuum".

The Compute-First Networking Dagstuhl seminar has brought together researchers and practitioners in the fields of distributed computing, network programmability, Internet of Things, and data analytics to explore the potential, possible technological components, as well as open research questions in an exciting new field that will likely induce a paradigm shift for networking and its relationship with computing.

Traditional overlay-based in-network computing is typically limited to quite specific purposes, for example CDN-style edge computing. At the same time, network programmability approaches such as Software-Defined Networking and corresponding languages such as P4 are often perceived as too limited for application-level programming. Compute-First Networking (CFN) views networking and computing holistically and aims at leveraging network programmability, server- and serverless in-network computing and modern distributed computing abstraction to develop a new system's approach for an environment where computing is not merely and add-on to existing networks, but where networking is re-imagined with a broader and ubiquitous notion of programmability.

We expect this approach to enable several benefits: it can help to unlock distributed computing from the existing silos of individual cloud and CDN platforms – a necessary condition to enable Keiichi Matsuda's vision of Hyper-Reality and Metaverse concepts where the physical world, human users and different forms of analytics, and visual rendering services constantly engage in information exchanges, directly at the edges of the network. It can also help to provide reliable, scalable, privacy-preserving and universally available platforms for Distributed Machine Learning applications that will play a key role in future large-scale data collection and analytics.

CFN's integrated approach allows for several optimizations, for example a more informed and more adaptive resource optimization that can take into account dynamically changing network conditions, availability of utilization of compute platforms as well as application requirements and adaptation boundaries, thus enabling more
responsive and better-performing applications.

Several interesting research challenges have been identified that should be addressed in order to realize the CFN vision: How should the different levels of programmability in todays system be integrated into a consistent approach? How would programming and communication abstractions look like? How do orchestration systems need to evolve in order to be usable in these potentially large scale scenarios? How can be guarantee security and privacy properties of a distributed computing slice without having to rely on just location attributes? How would the special requirements and properties of relevant applications such as Distributed Machine best be mapped to CFN – or should distributed data processing for federated or split Machine Learning play a more prominent role in designing CFN abstractions?

This seminar was an important first step in identifying the potential and a first set of interesting new research challenges for re-imaging distributed computing through CFN – an exciting new topic for networking and distributed computing research.

Written by dkutscher

December 1st, 2021 at 4:18 pm

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Re-Thinking LoRaWAN

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Low-power, long-range radio systems such as LoRaWAN represent one of the few remaining networked system domains that still feature a complete vertical stack with special link- and network layer designs independent of IP. Similar to local IoT systems for low-power networks (LoWPANs), the main service of these systems is to make data available at minimal energy consumption, but over longer distances. LoRaWAN (the system that comprises the LoRa PHY and MAC) supports bi-directional communication, if the IoT device has the energy budget. Application developers interface with the system using a centralized server that terminates the LoRaWAN protocol and makes data available on the Internet.

While LoRaWAN applications are typically providing access to named data, the existing LoRaWAN stack does not support this way of communicating. LoRaWAN is device-centric and is generally designed as a device-to-server messaging system – with centralized servers that serve as rendezvous point for accessing sensor data. The current design imposes rigid constraints and does not facilitate accessing named data natively, which results in many point solutions and dependencies on central server instances.

In our demo paper & presentation at ACM ICN-2020, we are therefore describing how Information-Centric Networking could provide a more natural communication style for LoRa applications and how ICN could help to conceive LoRa networks in a more distributed fashion compared to todays mainstream LoRaWAN deployments. For LoWPANs (e.g., 802.15.4 networks), ICN has already demonstrated to be an attractive and viable alternative to legacy integrated special purpose stacks – we believe that
LoRa communication provides similar opportunities.

Watch my Peter Kietzmann's talk about it here:

Written by dkutscher

October 6th, 2020 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Events,IRTF,Projects,Talks

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ACM ICN-2020 Highlights

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ACM ICN-2020 took place online from September 29th to October 1st 2020. This is a quick summary of the main technical highlights from my personal perspective. Overall, it was a high-quality event, and it was great to see the progress that is being made by different teams. Here, I am focusing specifically on Architecture, Content Distribution, Programmability, and Performance. If you are interested in the complete program, all papers, presentation material, and presentation videos are available on the conference website.

Architecture

The Information-Centric Networking concept can be implemented in different ways (and some people would argue that some overlay systems for content distribution and data processing are essentially information-centric). ICN systems have often been associated with clean-slate approaches, requiring difficult to imagine fork-lift replacement of larger parts of the infrastructure. While this has never the case (because you can always run ICN protocols over different underlays or directly map the semantics to IPv6), it is still interesting to learn about new approaches and to compare existing data-oriented frameworks to pure ICN systems.

Named-Data Transport

In their paper Named-Data Transport: An End-to-End Approach for an Information-Centric IP Internet (Presentation) Abdulazaz Albalawi and J. J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves have developed an alternative implementation of the accessing named data concept called Named-Data Transport (NDT) that can leverage existing Internet routing and DNS, while still providing the general properties (accessing named-data securely, in-network caching, receiver-driven operation).

The system is based on three components: 1) A connection-free reliable transport protocol, called Named Data Transport Protocol (NDTP), 2) a DNS extension (my-DNS) for manifest records that describe content items and their chunks, and 3) NDT Proxies that act as transparent caches and that track pending requests, similar to ICN forwarders, but at the transport layer.

In NDT, content names are based on DNS domain names, and each name is mapped to an individual manifest record (in the DNS). These records provide a mapping to a list of IP addresses hosting content replicas. When requesting such records, the idea is that the system would be able apply similar traffic steering as today's CDNs, i.e., provide the requestor with a list of topologically close locations. Producers would be responsible for producing and publishing such manifests.

The Named Data Transport Protocol (NDTP) is a receiver-driven transport protocol (on top of UDP) used by consumers and NDT Proxies which behave logically like ICN forwarders. There is more to the whole approach (such as security, name privacy etc.).

In my view, NDT is an example of a resolution-based ICN system with interesting ideas for deployability. In principle, resolution-based ICN has been pursued by other approaches before (such as NetInf). In general, these systems have a better initial deployment story at the cost of requiring additional infrastructure (and resolution steps during operation.)

RESTful Information-Centric Web of Things

In the Internet of Things, ICN has demonstrated many benefits in terms of reduced code complexity, better data availability, and reduced communication overhead compared to many vertically integrated IoT stacks and location/connection-based protocols.

In their paper Toward a RESTful Information-Centric Web of Things: A Deeper Look at Data Orientation in CoAP (presentation), Cenk Gündoğan, Christian Amsüss, Thomas C. Schmidt, and Matthias Wählisch compare a CoAP and OSCORE (Object Security for Constrained RESTFul Environments) based network of CoAP clients, servers, and proxies with a corresponding NDN setup.

The authors investigated the possibility of building a restful Web of Things that adheres to ICN first principles using the CoAP protocol suite (instead of a native ICN protocol framework). The results showed, since CoAP is quite modular and can be used in different ways, this is indeed possible, if one is willing to give up strict end-to-end semantics and to introduce proxies that mimic ICN forwarder behavior. (The paper reports on many other things, such as extensive performance measurements and comparisons.)

In my view, this is an interesting Gedankenexperiment, and there was a lively discussion at the conference. One of the discussion topics was the question how accurate the comparison really is. For example, while is is possible to construct a CoAP proxy chain that mimics ICN behavior, real-world scenarios would require additional functionality in the CoAP network (routing, dealing with disruptions etc.) that might lead to a different level of complexity (that would possibly be less pronounced in an native ICN environment).

Still, the important take-away of this paper is that some applications of CoAP & OSCORE exhibit information-centric properties, and it is an interesting question whether, for a green-field deployment, the user would not be better served by a native ICN approach.

Content Distribution

Content Distribution and ICN have a long history, sometimes challenged by some misunderstandings. Because one of the early ICN approaches was called Content-Centric Networking (CCN), it was often assumed that ICN would disrupt or replace Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) or that it was a CDN-like technology.

While ICN will certainly help with large-scale content distribution and potentially also change/simplify CDN operations, the core idea is actually about accessing named data securely as a principal network service -- for all applications (that's why Named Data Networking -- NDN -- is a better name).

Managed content distribution as such will continue to be important, even in an ICN world. Surely, it will enjoy better support from the network as today's CDN can expect, thus enabling new exciting applications and simplifying operations, but I prefer avoiding the notion of ICN replacing CDN.

When looking at actual networks and applications today, it is fair to say that almost nothing works without CDN. What we are seeing today is hyperscalers and essentially all the (so-called) OTT video providers extending their systems into ISP networks, by simply shipping standalone edge caches such as Netflix OCA servers as standalone systems to ISPs.

Each of these providers have their own special requirements of how to map customers to edge caches, how to implement traffic steering etc, which is painful enough for operators already. I expect this to become even more pressing as we shift more and more linear live TV to the Internet. Flash-crowd audiences such as viewers of UEFA Champions' League matches will require a massive extension of the already extensive edge caching infrastructure and require massive investments but also significant complexity with respect to traffic steering and guaranteeing a decent viewing experience.

In that context, it is no wonder that people try to resort to IP-Multicast for ensuring a more scaleable last-mile distribution such as this proposal by Akamai and others. Marrying IP-Multicast with a CDN-overlay is (IMO) not exactly complexity reduction, so I think we are now at a tipping point where the Internet in terms of concepts and deployable physical infrastructure can provide many cool services, but where the limited features of the network layers requires a prohibitive amount of complexity -- to an extend where people start looking for better solutions.

At ICN-2020, CDN was thus discussed quite extensively again -- with many interesting, complementary contributions.

Keynote by Bruce Maggs on The Economics of Content Distribution

We were extremely happy to have Bruce Maggs (Emerald Innovations, on leave from Duke University, ex NEC researcher, one of the founding employees of Akamai) delivering his keynote on the Economics of Content Delivery. In his talk Bruce explained different economic aspects (flow of payments, cost of goods sold) but also challenges for different CDN services such as live-streaming.

The take-aways for ICN were:

  • Incentives and cost must be aligned
  • Performance benefits from caching
    • Reducing latency is valuable to content providers
    • Reducing network is valuable to ISPs.
  • If there was caching at the core (in addition to the edge)
    • What is the additional benefit?
    • Who pays for that?
  • Protocol innovation is still possible
    • In the past, people thought that HTTP/TLS/TPC/IP is difficult to overcome
    • QUIC demonstrates that new protocols can be introduced

The socio-economic discussion resonated quite well with me, as some of earlier ICN projects in Europe tried to address these aspects relatively early in 2008. I believe this was due to the operator and vendor influence at the time. In retrospect, I would say that the approaches at that time were possibly too much top-down and premature (trying to revert value chains and find new business models). It is only now that we understand the economics of CDN, its complexity and real cost that (in my view) represent barriers to innovation -- and that we can start to imagine actually implementing different systems.

Far Cry: Will CDNs Hear NDN's Call?

In their paper Far Cry: Will CDNs Hear CDN's Call? (presentation), Chavoosh Ghasemi, Hamed Yousefi, and Beichuan Zhang tried to compare NDN with enterprise CDN (a particular variant of CDN) with respect to caching and retrieval of static contents.

In their work, the authors deployed an adaptive video streaming service over three different networks: Akamai, Fastly, and the NDN testbed. They had users in four different continents and conducted a two-week experiment, comparing Quality of Experience, Origin workload, failure resiliency, and content security.

I cannot summarize of all of the results here, but the conclusions by the authors were:

  • CDNs outperform the current NDN testbed deployment in terms of QoE (achievable video resolution in a DASH-setting)
  • Origin workload and failure resiliency are mainly the products of the network design -- and the NDN testbed outperforms current CDNs
  • More as an interpretation: NDN can realize a resilient, secure, and scalable content network given appropriate software and protocol maturity and hardware resources.

The paper was discussed intensively at the conference , for example, it was debated how comparable the plain NDN testbed and its network service really are -- to a production-level CDN.

In my view, the value of this paper lies in the created experiment facilities and the attempt to establish some ground truth (based on current NDN maturity). I hope that this work can leverage by more experiments in the future.

iCDN: An NDN-based CDN

In their paper iCDN: An NDN-based CDN (presentation), Chavoosh Ghasemi, Hamed Yousefi, and Beichuan Zhang (i.e., the same authors), pursue a more forward-looking approach. In this paper, they develop a CDN service based on ICN mechanisms, i.e., trying to conceive a future CDN system that does not need to take the current network's limitations into account.

One of the interesting ICN properties is that the main service of accessing named data does not require any notion of location. Sometimes people assume that an Information-Centric system always needs to map names to locators such as IP addresses, but this is a really limited view. Instead, it is possible to build the network solely on forwarding INTERESTs for named data based on forwarding information of that same namespace. A forwarder may have more than forwarding info base entry for the same name -- from a consumer (application) perspective these are completely equivalent.

Because of intrinsic object security, it does not matter from which particular host a content object is served. There can be several copies -- all equivalent. When creating copies of original content, e.g., by cloning a data repository, the new copy needs to be announced (by injecting routing information) , and from that point on, it is reachable without any additional management, configuration or other out-of-band mechanisms.

When applying this notion to CDN scenarios, it is easy to understand the simplification opportunities. In ICN, content repositories can be added to the network, and in-network name-based forwarding will find the closest copy automatically.

For iCDN, the authors have leveraged this basic notion and built an ICN-based CDN that does not need any client-to-cache mapping and overlay routing mechanisms. Based on that, iCDN features logical partitions and cache hierarchies for content namespaces (for acknowledging that there may be different CDN providers, hosting different content services).

iCDNs employ cache hierarchies to exploit on-path and off-oath caches without relying on application-layer routing functions. The idea was to provide a scalable, adaptive solution that can cope with dynamic network changes as well as dynamic changes in content popularity.

There are more details to this approach, and of course the debate on what is the best ICN-based CDN design has just started. Still, this paper is an interesting contribution in my view, because it illustrates the opportunities for rethinking CDN nicely.

Programmability

Programmability and ICN has two facets: 1) Implementing distributed computing with ICN (for example as in CFN -- Compute-First Networking) and 2) implementing ICN with programmable infrastructure. ACM ICN-2020 has seen contributions in both directions.

Result Provenance in Named Function Networking

In their paper Result Provenance in Named Function Networking (presentation), Claudio Marxer and Christian Tschudin have leveraged their previous work on Named Function Networking (NFN) and developed a result provenance framework for distributed computing in NFN.

In this work, the authors augmented NFN with a data structure that creates transparency of the genesis of every evaluation results so that entities in the system can ascertain result provenance. The main idea is the introduction of so-called provenance records that capture meta data about the genesis of the computation result. The paper discusses integration of these records into NDN and procedures for provenance checks and trust computation.

In my view, the interesting contribution of this work is the illustration of how the general concept of provenance verification can be implemented in a data-oriented system such as the ICN-based Named Function Networking framework. The results may be (so some extend) to other ICN-based in-network computing systems, so I hope this paper will start a thread of activities on this subject.

ENDN: An Enhanced NDN Architecture with a P4-programmable Data Plane

In their paper ENDN: An Enhanced NDN Architecture with a P4-programmable Data Plane (presentation), Ouassim Karrakchou, Nancy Samaan, and Ahmed Karmouch present an NDN system that is implemented in a P4-programmable data plane, i.e., a system in which applications can interact with a control plane that configures the data plane according to the required services.

The work in this paper is based on the notion that applications specify their content delivery requirements to the network, i.e., the control plane of a network. The control plane provide a catalogue of content delivery services, which are then translated into data plane configurations that ultimately get installed on P4 switches.

Examples of such services include Content Delivery Pattern services (whether the system is based on INTEREST/DATA or some stateful data forwarding), Content Name Rewrite services (enabling the network to rewrite certain names in INTERESTs), Adaptive Forwarding services (next-hop selection) etc.

In my view, this paper is interesting because it provides a relatively advanced perspective of how applications specify required behavior to a programmable ICN network. Moreover, the authors implemented this successfully on P4 switches and described relevant lessons learned and achievements in the paper.

Performance

Performance has historically always been an interesting topic in ICN. On the one hand, ICN provides substantial performance increases in the network due to its forwarding and caching features. On the other hand, it has been shown that implementing an ICN forwarder that operates at modern network line-speeds is challenging.

NDN-DPDK: NDN Forwarding at 100 Gbps on Commodity Hardware

In their paper NDN-DPDK: NDN Forwarding at 100 Gbps on Commodity Hardware (presentation), Junxiao Shi, Davide Pesavento, and Lotfi Benmohamed present their design of a DPDK-based forwarder.

The authors have developed a complete NDN implementation that runs on real hardware and that supports the complete NDN protocol and name matching semantics.

This work is interesting because the authors describe the different optimization techniques including better algorithms and more efficient data structures, as well as making use of the parallelism offered by modern multi-core CPUS and multiple hardware queues with user-space drivers for kernel-bypass.

This work represents the first software forwarder implementation that is able to achieve 100 Gpbs without compromises in NDN protocols semantics. The authors have published the source at https://github.com/usnistgov/ndn-dpdk.

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October 4th, 2020 at 12:28 am

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Keynote at IEEE HotICN-2019

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I had the pleasure of being invited for a keynote at IEEE HotICN-2019 in Chongqing. I talked about key ICN properties (from my perspective), about general research areas, and three specific topics: Quality of Service, Forwarding Plane Interaction with the Routing System and Applications, and In-Network Computing.

HotICN-2019

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December 16th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

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ACM CoNEXT Workshop on Emerging In-Network Computing Paradigms (ENCP)

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Edge- and, more generally, in-network computing is receiving a lot attention in research and industry fora. The ability to decentralize computing, to achieve low latency communication to distributed application logic, and the potential for privacy-preserving analytics are just a few examples that motivate a new approach for looking at computing and networking.

What are the interesting research questions from a networking and distributed computing perspective? In-network computing can be conceived in many different ways – from active networking, data plane programmability, running virtualized functions, service chaining, to distributed computing. What abstractions do we need to program, optimize, and to manage such systems? What is the relationship to cloud networking?

These questions will be discussed at the first workshop on Emerging In-Network Computing (ENCP) that takes place at ACM CoNEXT-2019 on December 9th in Orlando.

We have received many interesting submission and were able to put together a really interesting program that covers both Network Programmability and In-Network Computing Architectures and Protocols. Check out the full program here.

Many thanks to my co-organizers Spyros Mastorakis and Abderrahmen Mtibaa, to our steering committee members Jon Crowcroft, Satyajayant (Jay) Misra, and Dave Oran, and to our great Technical Program Committee for putting this together.

Links

Written by dkutscher

December 5th, 2019 at 8:24 am

ACM ICN-2019 Highlights

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ACM ICN-2019 took place in the week of September 23 in Macau, SAR China. The conference was co-located with Information-Centric-Networking-related side events: the TouchNDN Workshop on Creating Distributed Media Experiences with TouchDesigner and NDN before and an IRTF ICNRG meeting after the conference. In the following, I am providing a summary of some highlights of the whole week from my (naturally very subjective) perspective.

University of Macau -- the ICN-2019 Venue

Applications

ICN with its accessing named data in the network paradigm is supposed provide a different, hopefully better, service to application compared to the traditional stack of TCP/IP, DNS and application-layer protocols. Research in this space is often addressing one of two interesting research questions: 1) What is the potential for building or re-factoring applications that use ICN and what is the impact on existing designs; and 2) what requirements can be learned for the evolution of ICN, what services are useful on top of an ICN network layer, and/or how should the ICN network layer be improved.

Network Management

The best paper at the conference on Lessons Learned Building a Secure Network Measurement Framework using Basic NDN by Kathleen Nichols took the approach of investigating how a network measurement system can be implemented without inventing new features for the NDN network layer. Instead, Kathleen's work explored the features and usability support mechanisms that would be needed for implementing her Distributed Network Measurement Protocol (DNMP) in terms of frameworks and libraries leveraging existing NDN. DNMP is secure, role-based framework for requesting, carrying out, and collecting measurements in NDN forwarders. As such it represents a class of applications where applications both send and receive data that is organized by hierarchical topics in a namespace which implies a conceptual approach where applications do not (want to) talk to specific producers but are really operating in an information-centric style.

Communication in such a system involves one-to-many, many-to-one, and any-to-any communications about information (not data objects hosted at named nodes). DNMP employs a publish/subscribe model inspired by protocols such as MQTT where publishers and subscribers communicate through hierarchically structured topics. Instead of existing frameworks for data set reconciliation, with DNMP work includes the development of a lightweight pub/sub sync protocol called syncps that uses Difference Digests, solving the multi-party set reconciliation problem with prior context.

In a role-based system such as DNMP that uses secure Named-Data-based communication, automating authentication and access control is typically a major challenge. DNMP leverages earlier work on Trust Schema but extends this by a Versatile Security Toolkit (VerSec) that integrates with the transport framework to simplify integration of trust rules. VerSec is about to be released under GPL.

I found this paper really interesting to read because it is a nice illustration of what kind of higher layer services and APIs non-trivial application require. Also, the approach of using the NDN network layer as is but implementing additional functionality as libraries and frameworks seems promising with respect to establishing a stable network layer platform where innovation can happen independently on top. Moreover, the paper embraces Information-Centric thinking nicely and demonstrates the concept with a relevant application. Finally, I am looking forward to see the VerSec software which could make it easier for developers to implement rigorous security and validation in the applications.

Distributed Media Experiences

Jeff Burke and Peter Gusev organized the very cool TouchNDN workshop on Creating Distributed Media Experiences with TouchDesigner and NDN at the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong (summary presentation). The background is that video distribution/access has evolved significantly from linear TV broadcast to todays applications. Yet, many systems still seem to be built in a way that optimizes for linear video streaming to consumer eye balls, with a frame sequence abstraction.

Creative media applications such as Live Show Control (example) exhibit a much richer interaction with digital video, often combing 3D modelling with flexible, non-sequential access to video based on (for example) semantics, specific time intervals, quality layers, or spatial coordinates.

Touchdesigner used for sound reactive 3D object and for mixing a video loop

Combine this with dynamic lightning, sound control and instrumentation of theater effects, and you get an idea of an environment where various pieces of digital media are mixed together creatively and spontaneously. Incidentally, a famous venue for such an installation is the Spectacle at MGM Cotai, close to the venue of ACM ICN-2019 in Macau.

The Spectacle at MGM Cotai - Creative Overview

Derivative's TouchDesigner is a development platform for such realtime user experiences. It is frequently used for projection mapping, interactive visualization and other applications. The Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance (REMAP) has developed an integration of NDN with TouchDesigner's realtime 3D engine via the NDN-Common-Name-Library stack as a platform for experimenting with data-centric media. The objective is to provide a more natural networked media platform that does not have to deal with addresses (L2 or L3) but enables applications to publish and request media assets in namespaces that reflect the structure of the data. Combing this with other general ICN properties such as implicit multicast distribution and in-network caching results in a much more adequate platform for creating realtime multimedia experiences.

The TouchNDN workshop was one of REMAP's activities on converging their NDN research with artistic and cultural projects, trying to get NDN out of the lab and into the hands of creators in arts, culture, and entertainment. It is also an eye-opener for the ICN community for learning about trends and opportunities in real-time rendering and visual programming which seems to bear lots of potential for innovation -- both from the artistic as well as from the networking perspective.

Personally, I think it's a great, inspiring project that teaches us a lot about more interesting properties and metrics (flexible access, natural APIs, usability, utility for enabling innovations) compared to the usual quantitative performance metrics from the last century.

Inter-Server Game State Synchronization

Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) allow up to thousands of players to play in the same shared virtual world. Those worlds are often distributed on multiple servers of a server cluster, because a single server would not be able to handle the computational load caused by the large number of players interacting in a huge virtual world. This distribution of the world on a server cluster requires to synchronize relevant game state information among the servers. The synchronization requires every server to send updated game state information to the other servers in the cluster, resulting in redundantly sent traffic when utilizing current IP infrastructure.

In their paper Inter-Server Game State Synchronization using Named Data Networking Philipp Moll, Sebastian Theuermann, Natascha Rauscher, Hermann Hellwagner, and Jeff Burke started from the assumption that ICN's implicit multicast support and the ability to to decouple the game state information from the producing server could reduce the amount of redundant traffic and also help with robustness and availability in the presence of server failures.

They built a ICNified version of Minecraft and developed protocols for synchronizing game state in a server cluster over NDN. Their evaluation results indicated the benefits on an ICN-based approach for inter-server game state synchronization despite larger packet overheads (compared to TCP/IP). The authors made all their artefacts required for reproducing the results available on github.

Panel on Industry Applications of ICN

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on industry applications of ICN, featuring Richard Chow (Intel), Kathleen Nichols (Pollere Inc.), and Kent Wu (Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute). Recent ICN research has produced various platforms for experimentation and application development. One welcome development consists of initial ICN deployment mechanisms that do not require a forklift replacement of large parts of the Internet. At the same time, new technologies and use cases, such as edge computing, massively scalable multiparty communication, and linear video distribution, impose challenges on the existing infrastructure. This panel with experts from different application domains discussed pain points with current systems, opportunities and promising results for building specific applications with ICN, and challenges, shortcomings, and ideas for future evolution of ICN.

What was interesting to learn was how different groups pick up the results and available software to build prototypes for research and industry applications and what they perceive as challenges in applying ICN.

Decentralization

Growing concerns about centralization, surveillance and loss of digital sovereignty are currently fuelling many activities around P2P-inspired communication and storage networks, decentralized web ("web3") efforts as well as group such as the IRTF Research Group on Decentralized Internet Infrastructure (DINRG). One particular concern is the almost universal dependency on central cloud platforms for anchoring trust in applications that are actually of a rather local nature such as smart home platforms. Since such platforms often entail rent-seeking or surveillance-based business models, it is becoming increasingly important to investigate alternatives.

NDN/CCN-based ICN with its built-in PKI system provides some elements for an alternative design. In NDN/CCN it is possible to set up secure communication relationships without necessarily depending on third-party platforms which could be leveraged for more decentralized designs of IoT systems, social media and many other applications.

Decentralized and Secure Multimedia Sharing

A particularly important application domain is multimedia sharing where surveillance and manipulation campaigns by the dominant platforms have led to the development of alternative federated social media applications such as Mastodon and Diaspora. In their paper Decentralized and Secure Multimedia Sharing Application over Named Data Networking Ashlesh Gawande, Jeremy Clark, Damian Coomes, and Lan Wang described their design and implementation of npChat (NDN Photo Chat), a multimedia sharing application that provides similar functionality as today’s media-sharing based social networking applications without requiring any centralized service providers.

The major contributions of this work include identifying the specific requirements for a fully decentralized application, and designing and implementing NDN-based mechanisms to enable users to discover other users in the local network and through mutual friends, build friendship via multi-modal trust establishment mirrored from the real world, subscribe to friends’ multimedia data updates via pub-sub, and control access to their own published media.

This paper is interesting in my view because it illustrates the challenges and some design options nicely. It also suggests further research in terms of namespace design, name privacy and trust models. The authors developed an NDN-based prototype for Android systems that is supposed to appear on the Android Play store soon.

Exploring the Relationship of ICN and IPFS

We were happy to have David Dias, Adin Schmahmann, Cole Brown, and Evan Miyazono from Protocol Labs at the conference who held a tutorial on IPFS that also touched upon the relationship of IPFS and some ICN approaches.

Protocol Lab's InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a peer-to-peer content-addressable distributed filesystem that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. It is an opensource community-driven project, with reference implementations in Go and Javascript, and a global community of millions of users. IPFS resembles past and present efforts to build and deploy Information-Centric Networking approaches to content storage, resolution, distribution and delivery. IPFS and libp2p, which is the modular network stack of IPFS, are based on name-resolution based routing. The resolution system is based on Kademlia DHT and content is addressed by flat hash-based names. IPFS sees significant real-world usage already and is projected to become one of the main decentralised storage platforms in the near future. The objective of this tutorial is to make the audience familiar with IPFS and able to use the tools provided by the project for research and development.

Interestingly IPFS bear quite some similarities with earlier ICN systems such as NetInf but is using traditional transport and application layer protocols for the actual data transfer. One of the interesting research questions in that space are how IPFS system could be improved with today's ICN technology (as an underlay) but also how the design of a future IPFS-like system could leverage additional ICN mechanisms such as Trust Schema, data set reconciliation protocols, and remote method invocation. The paper Towards Peer-to-Peer Content Retrieval Markets: Enhancing IPFS with ICN by Onur Ascigil, Sergi Reñé, Michał Król et al. explored some of these options.

IoT

IoT is one of the interesting application areas for ICN, especially IoT in constrained environments, where the more powerful forwarding model (stateful forwarding and in-network caching) and the associated possibility for more fine-grained control of storage and communication resources incurs significant optimization potential (which was also a topic at this year's conference).

QoS Management in Constrained NDN Networks

Quality of Service (QoS) in the IP world mainly manages forwarding resources, i.e., link capacities and buffer spaces. In addition, Information Centric Networking (ICN) offers resource dimensions such as in-network caches and forwarding state. In constrained wireless networks, these resources are scarce with a potentially high impact due to lossy radio transmission. In their paper Gain More for Less: The Surprising Benefits of QoS Management in Constrained NDN Networks Cenk Gündoğan, Jakob Pfender, Michael Frey, Thomas C. Schmidt, Felix Shzu-Juraschek, and Matthias Wählisch explored the two basic service qualities (i) prompt and (ii) reliable traffic forwarding for the case of NDN. The resources that were taken into account are forwarding and queuing priorities, as well as the utilization of caches and of forwarding state space. The authors treated QoS resources not only in isolation, but also correlated their use on local nodes and between network members. Network-wide coordination is based on simple, predefined QoS code points. The results indicate that coordinated QoS management in ICN is more than the sum of its parts and exceeds the impact QoS can have in the IP world.

What I found interesting about his paper is the validation in real-world experiments that demonstrated impressive improvements, based on the coordinated QoS management approach. This work comes timely considering the current ICN QoS discussion in ICNRG, for example in draft-oran-icnrg-qosarch. Also, the authors made their artefacts available on github for enabling reproducing their results.

How Much ICN Is Inside of Bluetooth Mesh?

Bluetooth mesh is a new mode of Bluetooth operation for low-energy devices that offers group-based publish-subscribe as a network service with additional caching capabilities. These features resemble concepts of information-centric networking (ICN), and the analogy to ICN has been repeatedly drawn in the Bluetooth community. In their paper Bluetooth Mesh under the Microscope: How much ICN is Inside? Hauke Petersen, Peter Kietzmann, Cenk Gündoğan, Thomas C. Schmidt, and Matthias Wählisch compared Bluetooth mesh with ICN both conceptually and in real-world experiments. They contrasted both architectures and their design decisions in detail. They conducted experiments on an IoT testbed using NDN/CCNx and Bluetooth Mesh on constrained RIOT nodes.

Interestingly the authors found that the implementation of ICN principles and mechanisms in Bluetooth Mesh is rather limited. In fact, Bluetooth Mesh performs flooding without content caching and merely using the equivalent of multicast addresses as a surrogate for names. Based on these findings, the authors discuss options of how ICN support for Bluetooth could or should look like, so the paper is interesting both for understanding the actual working of Bluetooth Mesh as well as for ideas for improving Bluetooth Mesh. The authors made their artefacts available on github for enabling reproducing their results.

ICN and LoRa

LoRa is an interesting technology for its usage of license-free sub-gigahertz spectrum and bi-directional communication capabilities. We were happy to have Kent Wu and Xiaoyu Zhao from ASTRI at the conference and the ICNRG meeting who talked about their LoRa prototype development for a smart metering system for water consumption in Hong Kong. In addition to that, the ICNRG also discussed different options for integrating ICN and LoRa and got an update by Peter Kietzmann on the state of LoRa support in the RIOT OS. This is an exciting area for innovation, and we expect more work and interesting results in the future.

New Frontiers

Appying ICN to big data storage and processing and to distributed computing are really promising research directions that were explored by papers at the conference.

NDN and Hadoop

The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) is a network file system used to support multiple widely-used big data frameworks that can scale to run on large clusters. In their paper On the Power of In-Network Caching in the Hadoop Distributed File System Eric Newberry and Beichuan Zhang evaluate the effectiveness of using in-network caching on switches in HDFS- supported clusters in order to reduce per-link bandwidth usage in the network.

They discovered that some applications featured large amounts of data requested by multiple clients and that, by caching read data in the network, the average per-link bandwidth usage of read operations in these applications could be reduced by more than half. They also found that the choice of cache replacement policy could have a significant impact on caching effectiveness in this environment, with LIRS and ARC generally performing the best for larger and smaller cache sizes, respectively. The authors also developed a mechanism to reduce the total per-link bandwidth usage of HDFS write operations by replacing write pipelining with multicast.

Overall, the evaluation results are promising, and it will be interesting to see how the adoption of additional ICN concepts and mechanisms and caching could be useful for big data storage and processing.

Compute-First Networking

Although, as a co-author, I am clearly biased, I am quite convinced of the potential for distributed computing and ICN that we described in a paper co-authored by Michał Król, Spyridon Mastorakis, David Oran, and myself.

Edge- and, more generally, in-network computing is receiving a lot attention in research and industry fora. What are the interesting research questions from a networking perspective? In-network computing can be conceived in many different ways – from active networking, data plane programmability, running virtualized functions, service chaining, to distributed computing. Modern distributed computing frameworks and domain-specific languages provide a convenient and robust way to structure large distributed applications and deploy them on either data center or edge computing environments. The current systems suffer however from the need for a complex underlay of services to allow them to run effectively on existing Internet protocols. These services include centralized schedulers, DNS-based name translation, stateful load balancers, and heavy-weight transport protocols.

Over the past years, we have been working on alternative approaches, trying to find ways for integrating networking and computing in new ways, so that distributed computing can leverage networking capabilities directly and optimize usage of networking and computing resources in a holistic fashion. Here is a summary of our latest paper.

Written by dkutscher

October 4th, 2019 at 12:33 am

Posted in Events

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Edgy with a Chance of RIOTs

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Report from IRTF T2TRG Meeting, RIOT Summit, ACM ICN Conference, and IRTF ICNRG Meeting

 

 

Berlin saw a remarkable series of research, coding, demonstration and open discussion events on the Internet of Things and Information-Centric Networking last week. It brought together an interesting mix of researchers, developers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, which facilitated making real progress and moving the needle in next-generation networking for IoT, edge computing and decentralized operations. In my view the whole setup (although demanding in terms of commitment by organizers and participants) can likely serve as a prototype for future un-conference (and un-standards-meeting) events that want to put emphasis on constructive discussions and progress making instead of paper publication and marketing. For those who have been unlucky to miss it, I have written this (eclectic) summary (please refer to the respective events' web pages for a complete view). Also note, I am not speaking for the organizers of the different events.

Introduction & Executive Summary

The Internet of Things, Edge Computing, Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality are popular buzzwords in the networking industry and academic community. Unfortunately, the popularity and the associated revenue expectations often lead to proposed solutions that try to leverage (often failed) foundations from related domains (e.g., the telco area), that compromise on security and performance and that lead to complex point-solutions. For example, in IoT, past experience in factory automation, home networking etc. have led to the popular assumption that most IoT networks will be built with the notion of a gateway that connects controllers, sensors on different incompatible fieldbus networks to cloud backends, employing significant translation magic to enable connectivity and semantic interoperability. People often use the term convergence to describe the fact that a zoo of different technologies will be integrated in such frameworks.

Converting to Internet Technologies

However, the Internet research and technology development community has demonstrated before (when multi-media real-time communication made telephony just another service on the Internet) that conversion (not convergence) is what actually creates an interoperable and extensible set of technologies. In IoT, protocols such as 6lowpan (IPv6 over Low power WPAN) and CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) are enabling an efficient, secure, end-to-end communication service for the Internet-of-Things, where the Internet does not necessarily terminate at a predefined gateway. Instead, the Internet communication semantics can be extended to constrained devices -- providing one stable platform of communication, obsoleting a lot of cruft that current IoT "industry standards" represent.

Semantic Interoperability

Beyond the fundamental connectivity layer, it is important to agree on they way Things in the IoT actually interact with one another, i.e., request-response type of interaction, publish-subscribe, RESTfulness, group communication etc. CoAP enables different interaction types on a Thing-to-Thing-based communication model. But when you compose/deploy/re-program IoT networks, how do you actually know how to communicate with your Things? How do you learn about available resources and the correct way to interact with them? How do Things and their users understand the physical-world effects, and, finally, how can you (reliably and securely) create larger applications that leverage Things in the IoT?

There are different approaches for describing and discovering resources. In the age of Service-Oriented-Architectures, people came up with resource description frameworks etc., enabling a first level of semantic interoperability. In the IRTF Thing-to-Thing Research Group (T2TRG), we are trying to find a sweet-spot between expressiveness, simplicity and flexibility with respect of re-using and re-combining resources for new purposes. This work is leveraging ideas from the web (hypermedia in general) so that "simple things should be simple; complex things should be possible". Information-Centric Networking (ICN) also has a relation to semantic interoperability -- I will talk more about it when summarizing the ICN conference below.

Data-Oriented Networking and Forwarding Abstractions

In IoT most interactions are actually not about sending bits from host A to host B -- most often, we are interested in accessing names resources such as sensor readings, the result of an actuation request -- regardless of network and host addresses. Similar considerations apply to other applications, too -- for example web applications, video streaming and virtual reality. Realizing these applications today requires a stack of overlays for secure communication (server authentication and confidentiality through TLS), storage for resource sharing and latency reduction (CDN), and application-specific in-network processing (for example, routing IoT data to intended and authorized consumers).

In more advanced and/or challenging network scenarios such as multipath communication or data sharing in the IoT, the trade-offs that the traditional overlay approach requires are becoming increasingly painful. For example, TLS-based connection-oriented security may be a good approach for tele-banking, but it clearly gets into the way when we want to communicate in dynamic environments (with changing IP addresses etc.) or when we want to disseminate and consumer data from multiple producers securely in the IoT.

Being able to access named data regardless of current node addresses is a concern in more traditional frameworks such as CoAP, too. ICN addresses this by providing access to named (and authenticated) data as a first-order service. The network relies on named data access on the Internet layer, so that security (name-content binding, access control, confidentiality) does not depend on from where a particular data object has been retrieved. Obviously, this can facilitate communication in dynamic network topologies (mobility, disruptions) as well as enhance efficiency and reliability (caching) and is thus attractive for IoT but also for most other application domains.

The way that ICN implements the accessing-named-data service on the Internet layer enables peers and intermediary nodes to support forwarding and effective data dissemination in a network. For example, compared to IP, a router has slightly more visibility of request-response latency and data availability (potentially per name prefix) which can inform queue management, forwarding behavior and caching strategies. This is the basis for better transport performance in more conventional networks. In IoT, an enabled forwarding layer can help to optimize data availability in the presence of disruptions, power-saving and improve mesh network routing by leveraging information about data interest at certain parts of the network.

Because ICN can enable application-independent in-network caching directly on the Internet layer (as opposed to on the application layer as CDNs do) you can also characterize ICN as a democratizing technology: it enables data production and efficient sharing over the network by everyone and for any application -- without requiring permissions from ISPs or contracts with CDN providers.

Regardless of ICN or any other technology, the technical question is "what is an appropriate forwarding abstraction?"  -- for the new Internet that includes the IoT and other domains. From an Internet perspective, it would certainly be good if one could find a suitable comprise and arrive at a functionality set that is as powerful as needed -- but not too powerful in terms of requiring application-specific knowledge and functionality at too many places in the network to be useful. To that end, ICN is inspired by IP and provides a minimal thin-waist (in the Internet stack hour glass model) but provides more functionality for in-network forwarding and caching strategies.

The ICN Conference and the ICNRG meeting last week discussed technical aspects of applying this technology to different application domains such as IoT: how to automate trust management, how to map ICN protocols efficiently to lower layer protocols such as IEEE 802.15.4, how to manage/bootstrap such networks securely, and how use the ICN protocol semantics for IoT use cases, for example asynchronous data generation.

Edge Computing

Edge Computing is becoming increasingly popular these days, and there are many good reasons to rethink current cloud-centric compute service architectures. For example, in industrial IoT, there are strong trust-sensitivity reasons for not shoveling all data to the cloud by default for processing and redistribution. Instead the data needs to be processed, potentially stored and shared close to the producers and consumers in an industrial IoT network. Or, as another example, infrastructure support for Virtual Reality  has low-latency requirements that mandate placing the compute function close to the display device.

There are different ways to do edge computing though -- some approaches can be seen as extending today's cloud infrastructure to the edge -- to so-called edge gateways or to multi-tiered arrangements of compute platforms (fog computing). Also, popular CDN platforms provide some form of in-network computation already, so it seems attractive to extend these platforms to the edge.

From an Internet technology perspective, it is important to understand the implications of different architecture with respect to security and privacy (does edge computing mean we have to entrust unknown proxies to intercept our communication sessions?), permissionless innovation (can anyone run distributed computations in the network, or do you have to be a big content/service provider?), and generality (if edge computing means shipping VMs images to edge gateways, what about constrained networks/platforms?).

In the Thing-to-Thing context, we are discussing options for light-weight in-network computing that does not necessarily have to rely on an ossified architecture of constrained IoT network, edge gateway, and cloud backend. Similarly to thing-to-thing communication, would it be possible to design IoT edge computing in a way that allows some nodes in the network to offer compute services for other (possibly more constrained) nodes, and can this be achieved without complicated, and in the worst case, manual orchestration?

In ICN, the combination of accessing static named data and dynamic computation results in the same framework seems to be a very elegant and powerful approach to edge computing. For that reason, Intel and the NSF have recently decided to fund three research projects on ICN in wireless edge networks. One interesting aspect in this context is the idea not treating edge computing (and its applications) as a very special case in a distributed computing architecture. Instead, applications such as Virtual Reality could essentially just be web applications that leverage standardized protocols, media formats and dynamic code execution.

One particular proposal blending static data access with dynamic in-network computation in ICN is called Named Function Networking (NFN). NFN applies functional programming concepts (expression reduction, code as data, memomization) to networking and thus provide a light-weight in-network computation platform that can ultimately provide similar features as stream processing and distributed data bases under one single abstraction.

Going Cloudless

The Internet was designed as a distributed, decentralized system. For example, intra- and inter-domain routing, DNS, and so on were designed to operate in a distributed manner. However, over time the dominant deployment model for applications and some infrastructure services evolved to become more centralized and hierarchical. Some of the increase in centralization is due to business models that rely on centralized accounting and administration. However, we are simultaneously seeing the evolution of use cases (e.g., certain IoT deployments) that cannot work (or which work poorly) in centralized deployment scenarios along with the evolution of decentralized technologies which leverage new cryptographic infrastructures, such as DNSSEC, or which use novel, cryptographically-based distributed consensus mechanisms, such as a number of different ledger technologies.

One example that was mentioned at the T2TRG meeting on Sunday was the coordination of different wireless networks that compete for spectrum in a geographic context. For large-scale, managed spectrum sharing you could employ centralized databases for recording who is entitled to use what frequency band in a certain geographic location. In more dynamic settings like a multi-vendor, multi-radio technology IoT network deployment, this centralized approach may not work that well.

Decentralizing trust management, identity management, name resolution etc. could thus be another interesting factor towards democratizing network and application usage on the Internet. Less applications in the future may have to depend on centralized cloud services, and new players may be able to introduce innovative services. These ideas touch upon T2TRG work as well as ICN (that promote decentralized operation by itself). We are therefore kicking off a new proposed Research Group on Decentralized Internet Infrastructure in the IRTF.

Open Source and Free Software

In IoT one crucial element is the operation system platform for constrained devices. There are a few one that a freely available, and some companies have developed their own OSes, sometimes also marketed as Open Source. Open Source IOT OS software is important for two reasons: 1) For providing a platform that people can start new developments at minimal cost; and 2) For providing a platform that is reviewed and ideally governed by an open community process. If you think about security bugs/fixes, it has been demonstrated that the ability to review code and to propose changes improves the security and stability of software systems significantly compared to closed-source approaches, also with respect to agility when quick response to a new security threat is required.

Unfortunately, Open Source has become a marketing term these days, and many people confuse the availability of for-free software with Open Source. In addition to actually obtaining source code, two other important factors are licensing models and the project governance. Who actually decides about integrating proposed changes and future directions?

The RIOT OS project has developed a modern UNIX-like, very modular, very lightweight IoT OS that licensed under LGPL. The project is governed by a transparent and open community process, which has led to many useful extensions in the past, for example the addition of ICN support through integration of CCN-Lite or the addition of CAN bus functionality. RIOT's architecture, its modularity and flexibility has led to increasing popularity and its wide availability on many different target platforms, which was demonstrated at the RIOT summit last week.

TL;DR

There is lots of activity in making the Internet better and bringing it to new places. Last week's series of research events on IoT and ICN demonstrated new approaches towards Internet-inspired, direct communication. The most important meta aspects (in my view) are disintermediated communication, semantic interoperability, data-oriented communication and edge computing, and democratizing network operation and innovation through decentralizing communication and network infrastructure. The following sections represent my eclectic summary of theses meetings, focusing on these aspects.

IRTF Thing-to-Thing Research Group

The T2TRG meeting took place on Saturday/Sunday (September 23/24). One particular technology in T2TRG's activities on semantic interoperability is the Constrained RESTful Application Language (CoRAL) by Klaus Hartke that "defines a data model and interaction model as well as two specialized serialization formats for the description of typed connections between resources on the Web ("links"), possible operations on such resources ("forms"), and simple resource metadata" (presentation slides from the meeting). CoRAL is essentially a constrained-environment-compatible hypermedia framework that can be used by IoT applications to discover node capabilities in a modern, flexible way.

On the topic of coordination and consensus using decentralized network infrastructure, Laura Feeney talked about "A role for higher layer protocols in mitigating wireless interference", illustrating the use case of coordination between different (unknown) wireless networks that may compete with each other for spectrum (slides will become available here). Pekka Nikander introduced an upcoming EU H2020 project on Secure and Open Federation of IoT Systems (SOFIE) that is going to start 2018. The project plans to investigate use cases and ledger federation approaches to connect different types of IoT applications and their ledger infrastructure. I gave a talk on decentralized network infrastructure and considerations for T2T edge computing (as described earlier).

RIOT Summit 2017

The RIOT summit 2017 took place on Monday/Tuesday (September 25/26).  The keynote on Permutation-based Cryptography for the Internet of Things was presented by Gilles van Assche. The rest of the agenda was split up into topical sessions on IoT Security, Virtualization & Bootstrappping, Use Cases, and Networking. The second day featured different tutorials and coding sessions. In addition, there were many demos and posters on specific applications of RIOTs, new ideas etc.

In the Virtualization and Bootstrapping session, Marcel Enguehard talked about Cisco's "Large-scale experiments on virtual ICN-based IoT networks with vICN", an automated emulation platform, allowing for connecting physical devices for experiments.

In the Use Cases session, Michael Frey gave a presentation titled "Cloudy with a chance of RIOTS -- Towards an Open Industrial Internet", describing the R&D work at MSA on RIOT-based IoT appliances. In the same session,  Joern Alraun gave an introduction to the "Calliope mini", a single-board computer for teaching. I am personally interested quite a bit in didactics of computer science (and am deploring the sad computer science education situation at most schools...).

In the Networking session, Vincent Dupont talked about "RIOT and CAN" and reported on OTAkeys' development of a CAN implementation for RIOT (that has been integrated into the project) and its application to a commercial product related to vehicle on-board diagnosis (OBD). This resonated well with me, because I know how limited closed-source commercial OBD-2 adapters typically are, so the availability of an open platform sounds great for working with cars that use proprietary extensions etc.

Overall, the RIOT summit exhibited a vibrant community, and it was great to see an increasing number of commercial applications.

ACM ICN Conference

The ACM ICN 2017 Conference took place from Tuesday through Thursday (September 26 -- 28). The first day saw three tutorials on 1) NDN, CCN-Lite, RIOT, 2) FD.io/cicn, and 3) Umobile, all of them were really well attended. The conference itself was organized into 6 technical sessions on Security, Architecture, Forwarding, Caching & Mobility, Infrastructure, and miscellaneous topics. In addition, there was a panel discussion on ICN & Operating Systems.

Jon Crowcroft presented the keynote on Private Namespaces in ICN. In his talk Jon made the connection of earlier work on reliable multicast (PGM -- Pragmatic General Multicast) to ICN -- both technologies can achieve scalable data distribution, albeit in different ways. He also made the connection of ICN and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) -- as both technologies can be characterized as democratizing networking in their respective ways. ICN can provide a general-purpose multicast-like distribution infrastructure that can be used by anyone for any application without requiring prior contractual agreements, and DLT can be a basis for decentralized digital currencies and other ledger-based services in communication networks.

The best paper was titled "Jointly Optimal Routing and Caching for Arbitrary Network Topologies" (slides) by Stratis Ioannidis and Edmund Yeh. The paper presents polynomial time approximation algorithms for the (normally NP-hard) problem of jointly optimizing routing and caching for arbitrary topologies. This paper is noteworthy because the proposed solution can reduce routing cost in ICN dramatically, and furthermore, the work is applicable beyond ICN.

The Security session featured a paper titled "NDN DeLorean: An Authentication System for Data Archives in Named Data Networking" (slides) by Yingdi Yu, Alexander Afanasyes, Jan Seedorf, Zhiyi Zhang, and Lixia Zhang.  NDN DeLorean is  authentication framework to ensure the long-term authenticity of long-lived data, inspired by Certificate Transparency.   It is using a publicly auditable bookkeeping service approach to keep permanent proofs of data signatures and the times when the signatures were generated. I found this work interesting and important because it can provide a basis for trust management and attestation services in ICNs, with a purely data-oriented security approach.

In the Architecture session, there was a presentation of a short paper titled "Improved Content Addressability Through Relational Data Modelling and In-Network Processing Elements" (slides) by Claudio Marxer and Christian Tschudin. This work represents new ideas how relational database concepts can be applied to an ICN/NFN framework so that general-purpose processing of elements in ICN Named Data Objects becomes possible, which could be an interesting feature in NFN-based in-network computation, especially in application domains such as IoT. I found this work interesting and relevant because it can be seen as an ICN contribution to semantic interoperability, enabling application components to "talk" to each other across application silos.

The Forwarding session featured a paper titled "Path Switching in Content Centric and Named Data Networks" (slides) by Ilya Moiseenko and Dave Oran. The work described in this paper is leveraging the path symmetry in CCN/NDN for computing end-to-end label paths that can be used to steer forwarding of subsequent requests through the network. Over time, a consumer potentially different available paths for a certain prefix or set of prefixes and can then provide hints to forwarding nodes as to which particular path to use. I found this work interesting and relevant because it provides an MPLS-like functionality solely by leveraging data plane functions, i.e., unlike MPLS in IP, this approach would not need and label configuration and a corresponding control plane.

In the so-called Potpourri session, there was a presentation of a paper on ICN edge computing titled "NFaaS: Named Function as a Service" (slides) by Michael Krol and Ionnis Psaras, presenting an edge/fog computing extension to NDN that is leveraging very lightweight VMs, thus allowing dynamic code execution in a VM-based approach. Similarly to NFN, this work represents function names in Interest messages (that identify unikernel images). Some forwarding provide additional VM execution capabilities and can decide whether they want to fetch, store and execute the named images. NFaaS implements different forwarding strategies for delay-sensitive and for "bandwidth-hungry" services that can lead to different locations for the respective function execution. I found this work interesting and relevant because it proposes a framework for ICN-in network computation that enables certain useful optimizations with respect to function placement, without relying on centralized management with a  global network view.

A particular highlight of this year's conference was the demo and poster session that featured 12 (!) demos and 13 posters, which was praised by many attendees. The best-demo award went to Nikos Fotiou, George Xylomenos, George Polyzos, Hasan Islam, Dmitrij Lagutin, and Eero Hakala for their demo on "ICN enabling CoAP Extensions for IP based IoT devices". Another demo that impressed me was on "Panoramic Streaming using Named Tiles" by Kazuaki Ueda, Yuma Ishigaki, Atsushi Tagami and Toru Hasegawa. This demo showed how 360-degree video can be made more efficient through ICN by segmenting the video into named tiles that a consumer can request independently. A video renderer can thus request the required tiles for a particular field-of-view at a time only, thereby saving significant amount of bandwith. In conjunction with other ICN features such as caching and multipoint distribution, this approach can help to make 360-degree video much more viable in constrained networks.

Overall ACM ICN 2017 was a great research festival, and it was especially fascinating to see the all the different demos that applied ICN to a wide range of application domains, including IoT, video, tactical networks, robotics etc. I am really looking forward to ACM ICN 2018 that will be held at Northeastern University in Boston.

IRTF ICN Research Group

Finally, ICNRG had an interim meeting on Friday (September 29) that was focused on new research work and allowed a good amount of time for in-depth discussion (which is not always possible in the more rigid framework of an academic conference).

Michael Frey presented thoughts "Towards an ICN-powered Industrial IoT" and described specific requirements for MSA's mobile safety appliances. The talk also provided some insights on the particular approach towards ICN for Industrial IoT at MSA and reported some intermediate experimentation results, for example using pub/sub communication in NDN.

Mayutan Arumaithurai and Dennis Grewe presented "Information-Centric Mobile Edge Computing for Connected Vehicle Environments: Challenges and Research Directions". The talk featured the description of a mixed reality use case called "Electronic Horizon" for cars and a discussion of how its specific edge computing requirements can be met by ICN, pointing at interesting directions for future research.

Michael Krol talked about "Adapting ICN to Function Execution for Edge Computing" and the different research challenges he encountered such as PIT Expiry (when computations take longer...), security, authorization (for function execution), leveraging hardware-based cryptography and secure execution environments (SGX etc.).

This time, we tried a new interactive format at ICNRG which featured a panel-like discussion (with active participation from the rest of the group). The topic was "ICMP-like control-plane communication  for ICN", following up on an earlier discussion at the last meeting and and on the mailing list. The discussion featured the following contributions:

  1. Non-Application Messages for ICN (Panel introduction by Dave Oran)
  2. Do we need an ICMP for NDN (Thomas Schmidt)
  3. Fraudulent Names (Christian Tschudin)

Full house at ICNRG when Dave Oran kicks-off a discussion in ICN control plane communication

Full house at ICNRG when Dave Oran kicks-off a discussion on ICN control plane communication

During the discussion we clarified what we mean by control messages and discussed several options for representing corresponding semantics in ICN (namespace, message types, header fields). Please consult our detailed meeting notes if you are interested in the discussion.

Bengt Ahlgren talked about "ICN Congestion Control -- how to handle unknown and varying link capacity?" and kicked of a discussion on how ICN hop-by-hop congestion control should effectively work together with end-to-end (receiver-driven) congestion control.

Jacopo De Benedetto presented "Interconnection of testbeds to enable better testing" -- proposing using the Geant Testbed Service (GTS) for future ICN testing.

Cenk Gündogan and Christopher Scherb provided an "update on CCN-lite and RIOT". In 2017, the development of CCN-lite v2 has been kicked-off, with many improvements with respect to code modularity, functionality and implementation specifics. One of the planned changes is the introduction of static memory allocation which is deemed important on constrained platforms.

Cenk Gündogan also reported on his work on "CCN LoWPAN", i.e., mapping the CCNx and NDN protocols to an IEEE 802.15.4 link layer, employing header compression for a more compact message format.

Finally, I provided a short summary of the IRTF T2TRG meeting earlier in the week (see above).

Disclaimer

I was not involved in the local meeting arrangement and general organization of these events. The heavy lifting has been done by Matthias Wählisch, Thomas Schmidt, Emmaniel Baccelli and many supporters at FU Berlin and HAW.

ChangeLog

  • 2017-10-12: Added correct link to ICNRG meeting minutes

Written by dkutscher

October 5th, 2017 at 12:13 am

Posted in Events

ICN Update after IETF-99

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Here is a quick (eclectic) summary of recent events in ICN at/around IETF-99 last week. ICNRG met twice: for a full-day meeting on Sunday and for a regular meeting on Wednesday. (Find a list of all past meeting, agendas, meeting materials, and minutes here.)

Edge Computing and ICN

We presented a summary of the recent Workshop on Information-Centric Fog Computing (ICFC) at IFIP Networking 2017, which featured a few papers on ICN edge computing in IoT and on Named Function Networking, one specific approach to marry access to static data and dynamic computing in ICN.

Moreover, Eve Schooler from Intel announced the three selected projects of the recent Intel/NSF-sponsored call for proposals for projects on ICN in the wireless edge:

Lixia Zhang presented an overview of the first project on Augmented Reality and described how the project conceives AR as one of several applications that can leverage a web of browsable named data, based on decentralized multiparty context-content exchange.

Finally, Yiannis Psaras presented his paper on Keyword-Based Mobile Application Sharing through Information-Centric Connectivity that won the Best Paper Award at ACM MobiArch 2016. In this paper, the authors describe a cloud-independent content and application sharing platform based on ICN.

ICN Demos

Luca Muscariello and Marcel Enguehard presented an overview of the Community ICN (CICN) activity in the Linux Foundation fd.io project and showed a demo of the software and their emulation environment.

IMG_20170716_123755

IMG_20170716_115833

CICN consists of several Open Source ICN implementations, including an efficient VPP-based forwarder implementations. Cisco made this software available after acquiring PARC's implementation earlier this year.

ICN Specifications Moving Forward Towards Publication

ICNRG has completed its (research group) last calls on the two core specifications for the CCNx variant of ICN:

The fd.io CICN implementations are based on these specifications (that are intended to be published as Experimental RFCs).

ICNRG also started the Last Call for an Internet Draft on Research Directions for Using ICN in Disaster Scenarios that is intended to be published as an Informal RFC. There are a few additional documents that are nearing completion -- see our Wiki for more information.

Upcoming Things

There a few exciting events around ICN taking place this summer/fall.

The ACM SIGCOMM ICN Conference 2017 is embedded into a week of cool ICN and IoT events:

  1. IRTF Thing-to-Thing-Research-Group meeting on September 23/24 (Saturday/Sunday)
  2. RIOT Summit 2017 on September 25/26  (Monday/Tuesday)
  3. The ICN Conference itself from September 26 through 26 (Tuesday through Thursday)
  4. IRTF ICNRG meeting on September 27 (Friday)

Moreover, ICNRG plans to meet at IETF-100, most likely on Sunday, November 11 and during the following week.

If you are working on ICN Security, there a current Call For Papers for an IEEE Communications Magazine Feature Topic on Information-Centric Networking Security.

 

 

 

 

Written by dkutscher

July 25th, 2017 at 11:52 am

Posted in Events