Dirk Kutscher

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Information-Centric Networking Research Group at IETF-113 Summary

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The Information-Centric Networking Research Group (ICNRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) met during the 113th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that took place in Vienna from March 19th to March 25th 2022. IETF-113 was the IETF's first hybrid meeting with onsite and remote participants.

Presentation material and minutes are available online, and there is a full recording on youTube. I am summarizing the meeting below.

Edmund Yeh: NDN for Data-Intensive Science Experiments

Edmund Yeh (Northeastern University) presented the NSF-funded project NDN for Data-Intensive Science Experiments (N-DISE), a two-year inter-disciplinary project with participants from Northeastern, Caltech, UCLA, and Tennessee Tech that collaborates with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), genomics researchers, and the NDN project team.

N-DISE is building data-centric ecosystem to provide agile, integrated, interoperable, scalable, robust and trustworthy solutions for heterogeneous data-intensive domains, in order to support very data-intensive science applications through an NDN-based communication and data sharing infrastructure. The LHC high energy physics program represents the leading target use case, but the project is also looking at BioGenome and other human genome projects as future use cases.

In many data-intensive science applications, data needs to distributed in real-time, archived, retrieved by multiple consumers etc. Within one data centers, but even more so in geographically distributed scenarios, this could lead to a signficant amount of duplicated transmissions with legacy system architectures. N-DISE would leverage general ICN features and concepts such as location-independent data naming, on-path caching and explicit replication through data repos to dramatically improve the efficiency but also to reduce the complexity of such data management systems and their applications.

The general approach of the N-DISE project is to leverage recent results in high-speed NDN networking such as ndn-dpdk to build a data science support infrastructure for petascale distribution, which involves research in high-througput forwarding/caching, the definition of container-based node architectures, FPGA acceleration subsystems and SDN control. The goal is to deliver LHC data over wide area networks at throughputs of approximately 100 Gpbs and to dramatically decrease download times by using optimized caching.

From an NDN perspective, the project provides several interesting lines of work:

  • Deployment architectures (how to build efficient container-based N-DISE nodes);
  • WAN Testbed creation and throughput testing;
  • Optimized caching and forwarding;
  • Congestion control and multi-path forwardind; and
  • FPGA acceleration.

There are several interesting ideas and connections to ongoing ICN research in N-DISE. For example, as people start building applications for high-speed data sharing but also distributed computing, the question of container-based ICN node architectures arise, i.e., how to enable easy cloud-native deployment of such systems without compromising too much on performance.

Another interesting aspect is congestion control in multi-path forwarding scenarios. Existing technologies such as Multipath TCP and Multipath QUIC are somewhat limited with respect to their ability to use multipath resources in the network efficiently. In ICN, with its different forwarding model multipath forwarding decisions could be made hop-by-hop, and consumers (receiving endpoints) could be given greater control over path selection. For example:

Cenk Gündoğan: Alternative Delta Time Encoding for CCNx Using Compact Floating-Point Arithmetic

Cenk Gündoğan of HAW Hamburg presented an update of draft-gundogan-icnrg-ccnx-timetlv, a proposal for an alternative logarithmic encoding of time values in ICN (CCNx) messages.

The motivation for this work lies in constrained networking where header compression as per RFC 9139 (ICNLoWPAN) would be applied and more compact time encoding would be desirable. The proposed approach would allow for a compact encoding with dynamic ranges (as in floating point arithmetics), but imposes challenges with respect to backwards compatibility.

ICNRG is considering adopting this work as a research group item to find the best way for updating the current CCNx specifications in the light of these questions.

Dave Oran: Ping & Traceroute Update

Dave Oran presented the recent updates to two specifications:

In IP, fundamental and very useful tools such as ping and traceroute were created years after the architecture and protocol definitions. In ICN there is an opportunity to leverage tooling at an earlier phase – but also to reason about needed tools and useful features.

ICN Ping provides the ability to ascertain reachability of names, which includes

  • to test the reachability and operational state of an ICN forwarder;
  • to test the reachability of a producer or a data repository;
  • to test whether a specific named object is cached in some on-path CS, and, if so, return the administrative name of the corresponding forwarder; and
    • to perform some simple network performance measurements.

ICN Traceroute provides ability to ascertain characteristics (transit forwarders
and delays) of at least one of the available routes to a name prefix, which includes

  • to trace one or more paths towards an ICN forwarder (for troubleshooting purposes);
  • to trace one or more paths along which a named data of an application can be reached;
  • to test whether a specific named object is cached in some on-path CS, and, if so, trace the path towards it and return the identity of the corresponding forwarder; and
  • to perform transit delay network measurements.

Both drafts completed Research Group Last Call in January 2022 and evoked some feedback that has now been addressed (see presentation for details). ICNRG will transfer these drafts to IRSG review and subsequent steps in the IRTF review and publication process soon.

Dave Oran: Path Steering Refresher

Dave Oran presented a refresher of a previously presented specification of Path Steering in ICN (draft-oran-icnrg-pathsteering). Path Steering is a mechanism to discover paths to the producers of ICN content objects and steer subsequent Interest messages along a previously discovered path. It has various uses, including the operation of state-of-the-art multipath congestion control algorithms and for network measurement and management.

In ICN, communication is inherently multi-path and potentially multidestination. But so far there is no mechanism for consumers to direct Interest traffic onto a
specific path, which could lead to
– Forwarding Strategies in ICN forwarders can spray Interests onto various paths;
– Consumers have a hard time interpreting failures and performance glitches;
– Troubleshooting and performance tools need path visibility and control to find problems and do simple measurements.

ICN Path Steering would enable

  • Discovering, monitor and troubleshoot multipath network connectivity based on names and name prefixes:
    • Ping
    • Traceroute
  • Accurately measure a performance of a specific network path.
  • Multipath Congestion control needs to:
    • Estimate/Count number of available paths
    • Reliably identify a path
    • Allocate traffic to each path
  • Traffic Engineering and SDN
    • Externally programmable end-to-end paths for Data Center and
      Service Provider networks.

Briefly, Path Steering works by using a Path Label (as an extension to existing protocol formats, see figure) for discovering and for specifying selected paths.

The technology would give consumers much more visibility and greater control of multipath usage and could be useful for many applications, especially those that want to leverage path diversity, for example high-volume file transfers, robust communication in dynamically changing networks, and distributed computing.

Dirk Kutscher: Reflexive Forwarding Re-Design

Dave Oran and I recently re-design a scheme that we called Reflexive Forwarding and that is specified in draft-oran-icnrg-reflexive-forwarding.

Current Information-Centric Networking protocols such as CCNx and NDN have a wide range of useful applications in content retrieval and other scenarios that depend only on a robust two-way exchange in the form of a request and response (represented by an Interest-Data exchange in the case of the two protocols noted above).

A number of important applications however, require placing large amounts of data in the Interest message, and/or more than one two-way handshake. While these can be accomplished using independent Interest-Data exchanges by reversing the roles of consumer and producer, such approaches can be both clumsy for applications and problematic from a state management, congestion control, or security standpoint.

This specification proposes a Reflexive Forwarding extension to the CCNx and NDN protocol architectures that eliminates the problems inherent in using independent Interest-Data exchanges for such applications. It updates RFC8569 and RFC8609.

Example: RESTful communication over ICN

In today HTTP deployments, requests such as HTTP GET requests are conceptionally stateless, but in fact they carry a lot of information that would allow server to process these requests correctly. This includes regular header fields, cookies but also input parameters (form data etc.) so that requests can become very large (sometimes larger than the corresponding result messages).

It is generally not a good idea to build client-server systems that require servers to parse and process a lot a client-supplied input data, as this could easily be exploited by computational overload attacks.

In ICN, in addition, Interest message should not be used to carry a lot of "client" parameters as this could lead to issues with respect to flow balance (congestion control schemes in ICN should work based on DATA message volume and rate), but would also force forwarders to store large Interest messages and could potentially even lead to Interest fragmentation, a highly undesirable consequence.

Reflexive Forwarding aims at providing a robust ICN-idiomatic way to transfer "input parameters", by enabling the "server side" to fetch parameters using regular ICN communication (Interest/Data). When doing so, we do not want to give up important ICN properties such as not requiring consumers (i.e., the "clients") to reveal their source address – a useful feature for enable easy consumer mobility and some form of privacy.

Reflexive Forwarding Design

Our Reflexive Forwarding scheme addresses this by letting the consumer specify a tempory, non-globally-routable prefix to the network and the producer that would allow the producer to get back to the consumer through Reflexive Interests for fetching the required input parameters at the producer's discretion. The figure above depicts the high-level protocol operation.

Our new design leverage tempory PIT (Pending Interest Table) state in forwarders and PIT Tokens (hop-by-hop protocol fields in NDN and CCNx) that would allow forwaders, to map Reflexive Interests to PIT entries of the actual Interest and thus forward the Reflexive Interest correctly, on the reverse path.

Potential Applications

Potential applications include

  • RESTful communication, e.g., Web over ICN;
  • Remote Method Invocation;
  • Phone-home scenarios; and
  • Peer state synchronization.

For example, we have used a previous design of this scheme in our paper RICE: Remote Method Invocation in ICN that leveraged Reflexive Forwarding for the invocation and input parameter transmission as depicted in the figure above.

Reflexive Forwarding requires relativly benign to ICN forwarder and endpoint behavior but could enable many relevant use cases in an ICN idiomatic way, without requiring large layering overhead and without giving important ICN properties.

Written by dkutscher

April 1st, 2022 at 2:36 pm

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Information-Centric Networking Research Group Update December 2021

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The Information-Centric Networking Research Group (ICNRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) has recently published two RFC and held a research meeting on December 10th 2021.

Recent RFC Publications

ICNRG published two RFCs recently:

RFC 9139: ICN Adaptation to Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (LoWPANs)

RFC 9139 defines a convergence layer for Content-Centric Networking (CCNx) and Named Data Networking (NDN) over IEEE 802.15.4 Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (LoWPANs). A new frame format is specified to adapt CCNx and NDN packets to the small MTU size of IEEE 802.15.4. For that, syntactic and semantic changes to the TLV-based header formats are described.

To support compatibility with other LoWPAN technologies that may coexist on a wireless medium, the dispatching scheme provided by IPv6 over LoWPAN (6LoWPAN) is extended to include new dispatch types for CCNx and NDN. Additionally, the fragmentation component of the 6LoWPAN dispatching framework is applied to Information-Centric Network (ICN) chunks.

In its second part, the document defines stateless and stateful compression schemes to improve efficiency on constrained links. Stateless compression reduces TLV expressions to static header fields for common use cases. Stateful compression schemes elide states local to the LoWPAN and replace names in Data packets by short local identifiers.

The ICN LoWPAN specification is a great platform for future experiments with ICN in constrained networking environments, including but not limited to LoWPAN networks.

RFC 9138: Design Considerations for Name Resolution Service in Information-Centric Networking (ICN)

RFC 9138 provides the functionalities and design considerations for a Name Resolution Service (NRS) in Information-Centric Networking (ICN). The purpose of an NRS in ICN is to translate an object name into some other information such as a locator, another name, etc. in order to forward the object request.

Since naming data independently from its current location (where it is stored) is a primary concept of ICN, how to find any NDO using a location-independent name is one of the most important design challenges in ICN. Such ICN routing may comprise three steps:

  1. Name resolution: matches/translates a content name to the locator of the content producer or source that can provide the content.
  2. Content request routing: routes the content request towards the content's location based either on its name or locator.
  3. Content delivery: transfers the content to the requester.

Among the three steps of ICN routing, this document investigates only the name resolution step, which translates a content name to the content locator. In addition, this document covers various possible types of name resolution in ICN such as one name to another name, name to locator, name to manifest, name to metadata, etc.

ICNRG Meeting on December 10th 2021

Agenda

1 Chairs’ Presentation: Status, Updates Chairs 05 min
2 Zenoh - The Edge Data Fabric Carlos Guimarães 30 min
3 The SPAN Network Architecture Rhett Sampson 30 min
4 NDNts API Design Junxiao Shi 30 min
6 Wrap-Up, Next Steps Chairs 5 min

Zenoh

Carlos Guimarães presented zenoh – The Edge Data Fabric. zenoh is an ICN-inspired data distribution and processing system that zenoh aims at unifying data in motion, data at rest and computations. It blends traditional pub/sub with geo distributed storage, queries and computations, adopting a hierarchical naming scheme and other ICN properties. zenoh provides a high level API for high performance pub/sub and distributed queries, data representation transcoding, an implementation of geo-distributed storage and distributed computed values.


SPAN Network Architecture

Rhett Sampson and Jaime Llorca presented GT Systems' SPAN-AI content distribution system (CDN as a service) that uses ICN/CCN/NDN for the implementation of their distributed content delivery system, leveraging name-based routing.


NDNts API Design

Junxiao Shi presented the NDNts API Design. NDNts is an NDN implementation in TypeScript, aiming to facilitate NDN application development in browsers and on the Node.js platform.

The development of NDNts led to some insights on NDN low-level API design (packet decoding, fragmentation, notion of "faces", retransmission logic etc.) that Junxiao shared in his presentation.

Written by dkutscher

December 21st, 2021 at 10:07 pm

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Information-Centric Dataflow: Re-Imagining Reactive Distributed Computing

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The Dataflow paradigm is a popular distributed computing abstraction that is leveraged by several popular data processing frameworks such as Apache Flink and Google Dataflow. Fundamentally, Dataflow is based on the concept of asynchronous messaging between computing nodes, where data controls program execution, i.e., computations are triggered by incoming data and associated conditions. This typically leads to very modular system architectures that enable re-use, re-composition, and parallel execution naturally. Most of the popular distributed processing frameworks today are implemented as overlays, i.e., they allow for instantiating computations and for inter-connecting them, for example by creating and maintaining communication channels between nodes such as system processes and microservices.

Connections and Overlays

The connection-based approach incurs several architectural problems and inefficiencies, for example: application logic is concerned with receiving and producing data as a result of computation processes but connections imply transport endpoint addresses that are typically not congruent. This typically implies a mapping or orchestration system. One key goal for Dataflow systems is to enable parallel execution, i.e., one computation is run in parallel, which also affects the communication relationships with upstream producers and downstream consumers. For example, when parallelizing a computation step, it typically implies that each instance is consuming a partition of the inputs instead of all the inputs. An indirection- and connection-based approach makes it harder to configure (and especially to dynamically re-configure) such dataflow graphs.

In some variants of Dataflow, for example stream processing, it can be attractive if one computation output can be consumed by multiple downstream functions. Connection-based overlays typically require duplicating the data for each such connection, incurring significant overheads. In large-scale scenarios, the computation functions may be distributed to multiple hosts that are inter-connected in a network. Orchestrators may have visibility into compute resource availability but typically have to treat the TCP/IP network as a blackbox. As a result, the actual data flow is locked into a set of overlay connections that do not necessarily follow optimal paths, i.e., the communication flows are incongruent with the logical data flows.

IceFlow: Information-Centric Dataflow

In our ACM ICN 2021 paper Vision: Information-Centric Dataflow – Re-Imagining Reactive Distributed Computing, we present IceFlow – an Information-Centric Dataflow system approach that supports traditional Dataflow with Information-Centric principles and that can be used as a drop-in replacement for existing Dataflow-based frameworks.

In addition to the paper, we also show a live of a joint optimization of computing and networking resources in IceFlow: Decentralized ICN-based dataflow system implementation.

IceFlow’s objectives are:

  1. reducing complexity in Dataflow systems by removing connection-based overlays and corresponding orchestration requirements;
  2. enabling efficient communication by reducing data duplication; and
  3. enabling additional improvements through more direct communication and caching in the network.

IceFlow is employing access to authenticated data in the network as per CCNx/NDN-based ICN for the communication between computation functions and provides additional features such as flowcontrol, partitions for data streaming, and a window concept for synchronizing computations in streaming pipelines. The contributions of this paper are:

  1. an ICN naming scheme for Dataflow;
  2. a concept for receiver-driven flow control in IceFlow-based Dataflow systems and for dealing with parallel processing in IceFlowbased Dataflow systems; and
  3. a prototype implementation.

Links

Written by dkutscher

September 21st, 2021 at 3:11 pm

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Information-Centric Networking Research Update December 2020

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The IRTF Information-Centric Networking Research Group (ICNRG) held a meeting on December 1st 2020. Here is a summary of the research highlights. You can find all the presentation and the meetings minutes on the IETF datatracker.


Big Data Processing

Edmund Yeh (Northeastern University) presented an overview of recent and current research on supporting Data-Centric Ecosystems for Large-Scale Data-Intensive Science through ICN in the NSF SANDIE Project (SDN-Assisted NDN for Data Intensive Experiments) and in the NSF N-DISE project (NDN for Data Intensive Science Experiments).

Data-intensive science applications such as processing of LHC and genomics data pose interesting challenges to system design and efficient resource usage: from an application perspective these system require accessing named data, independent of location, transport mechanisms etc.

The underlying infrastructures however typically focus on addresses, processes, servers, and connections, which also has repercussions on the security architectures (securing containers and delivery pipes).

The research work in the SANDIE and N-DISE project is applying a data-centric approach to system and network design through the whole data lifecycle, i.e., data is uniquely named and authenticated/encrypted directly at the production phase and then delivered, replicated, stored and made available under that name.

Using basic ICN mechanisms (accessing named data, opportunistic caching, receiver-driven operation, and implicit multicast), accessing, processing and re-using data for data-intensive applications can be much optimized.

Further optimizations can be achieved through:

The team has applied this to accelerating XRootD for scalable
fault-tolerant data access and demonstrated throughput rates of over 6.7 Gbps and 10 times acceleration.

The newly started N-DISE project will continue this research, aiming at developing a production-ready NDN-based petascale data distribution, caching, access, and computation platform that could server major science programs, with LHC high energy physics as a primary target use case. Technically, the work will focus on created NDN-DPDK consumer and producer applications, packaging NDN-DPDK and applications into containers for diverse platforms, and advancing ICN data integrity and provenance mechanisms.


Broker-Based Publish/Subscribe

Nameseok Ko of ETRI presented a design for a Broker-based Pub/Sub System for NDN.

Pub/sub is a popular communication pattern for loosely coupled producers and consumers, supporting one-to-many asynchronous push-based communication. In principle, ICN is amenable to broker-less, distributed implementations of the Pub/sub pattern, for example through dataset synchronization techniques a la Psync.

The presented design is addressing constrained environments such as IoT with low-performance producers, potentially connected to larger systems with scalability and naming flexibility requirements that are difficult to meet with existing approaches. For these environments, the ETRI team has developed a multi-broker based approach, where brokers act as rendezvous points for publishers and subscribers and as gateways to other brokers.

Technically, the system is based on

  • a logical separation of topic data management (brokers map the topic name to topic rendezvous nodes names through hashing);
  • topic manifests that list rendezvous nodes holding named data streams; and
  • data manifests describing data names for a data stream.

This system is supposed to be easily scalable and offloads constrained publishers and subscribers, thus supporting IoT environments that are connected to less constrained infrastructure.


NDN-Based Ethereum Blockchain

Quang Tung Thai of ETRI presented results from experiments with an NDN-based Ethereum Blockchain implementation.

Data communication in today's blockchain networks is known to be highly redundant due to the significant amount of duplication that occurs by implementing gossip protocols in connection-oriented overlays. In Ethereum blocks and transaction are broadcast over a such a P2P overlay that is based on a Kademlia-like DHT for finding peers and on TCP communication between peers.

Small objects are pushed directly to all managed peers, whereas large objects are pushed to a few managed peers and are then announced to the remaining peers for subsequent downloading with obvious redundancy and inefficiency.

While the blocks/transaction broadcasting seems to be a good fit for ICN dataset synchronization techniques such as Psync, it turns out that it cannot directly replace the complete Gossip system in Ethereum, as the P2P overlay is still needed for data validation according to the ETRI team.

In the presented work, this has been addressed this by designing an NDN-based P2P system for data announcements that is paired with a NDN-based data retrieval that could still provide most of the efficiency gains. The design is based on the following ideas:

  • blockchain nodes have routable prefixes (node names);
  • all data objects (blocks/transactions) have globally unique names (so that regular ICN forwarding/caching benefits can apply);
  • object names are mapped to nodes names through forwarding hints;
  • the existence of new objects is announced through the P2P overlay, and the object is then retrieved using regular ICN Interest/Data; and
  • validation still takes place in overlay nodes.

The ETRI team has implemented a fully functional NDN-based Ethereum blockchain client based on geth, the official go-based client, where the TCP/IP P2P module has been replaced by an NDN module. First testbed-based experiments yielded promising efficiency gains, i.e., the traffic redundancy can be translated to higher throughput.


Producer Anonymity based on Onion Routing in Named Data Networking

Toru Hasegawa of Osaka University has presented a scheme for Producer Anonymity based on Onion Routing in NDN.

Baseline ICN provides a somewhat asymmetric flavor of anonymity: in general, consumers enjoy anonymity because CCNx/NDN-based ICN does not have the notion of source addresses, and because INTEREST can be aggregated in the network which could provide additional (opportunistic) anonymity.

In many applications though, endpoints will be both consumers and producers at the same time, especially when providing information to others that needs to be requests through Interest/Data exchanges. In addition, the baseline consumer anonymity does not provide very strong content-consumer unlinkability – so that additional measures are required.

The authors have developed a system that is

  • achieving producer anonymity against adversaries who analyze content names, signatures and packet routes; and is
  • leveraging mostly baseline NDN mechanisms.

The design is based on the Hidden Service in
Tor
and is employing so-called self-certifying names as producer pseudonyms so that consumers can talk to producers through rendezvous point without exposing a routable name. In order to prevent en-route information leakage, producers communicate with other other nodes only through circuits. Additional anonymity for rendezvous communication is achieved through RICE.

The system has been implemented using the ndn-cxx library, with AES-128 for encryption and HMAC-SHA-256 for message digests. One advantage of the system is that it can provide the same level of anonymity as Tor's Hidden Service with less of anonymizing routers, which results in reduced latency and higher throughput.


A Data-Centric View on the Web of Things

Cenk Gündoğan provided a presentation on a Data-centric View on the Web of Things which followed up on his paper at ACM ICN-2020 on Toward a RESTful Information-Centric Web of Things: A Deeper Look at Data Orientation in CoAP.

This presentation was discussing the adoption of information-centric properties in the CoAP-based IoT technology stack, for example:

  • request-response semantics (through regular CoAP GET method semantics);
  • stateful forwarding and caching (could be achieved through CoAP proxy chaining); and
  • content object security (OSCORE).

General ICN principles can be found in different protocols, at different layers. For example DASH-based video streaming is essentially ICN on top of HTTP from an application perspective. Similar comparisons could be made in other domains, namely IoT, specifically for the CoAP technology stack.

The general question here is whether a corresponding CoAP system with application-layer proxying and object security would be comparable to an ICN-based system with respect to feature completeness and efficiency (communication- and implementation-wise).

Other questions that the authors are currently investigating include how relevant ICN features such as the implicit multicast ability could be added/mapped to CoAP and how ICN's name-based routing and forwarding strategies (that could work without dedicated routing protocols in some scenarios) could be matched by CoAP systems (without completely re-implementing ICN on top of CoAP).

Written by dkutscher

December 18th, 2020 at 12:21 am

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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.

Written by dkutscher

October 4th, 2020 at 12:28 am

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Reflexive Forwarding for Information-Centric Networking

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In most Internet (two-party) communication scenarios, we have to deal with connection setup protocols, for example for TCP (three-way handshake), TLS (three-way key agreement), HTTP (leveraging TLS/TCP before GET-RESPONSE). The most important concern is to make sure that both parties know that they have succesfully established a connection and to agree on its parameters.

In client-server communication, there are other, application-layer, requirements as well, for example authenticating and authorizing peer and checking input parameters. Web applications today, typically serve a mix of static and dynamic content, and the generation of such dynamic content requires considerable amount of client input (as request parameters), which in results in considerable amounts of data (Google: "Request headers today vary in size from ~200 bytes to over 2KB.", SPDY Whitepaper).

When designing connection establishment protocols and their interaction with higher layer protocols, there are a few, sometimes contradicting objectives:

  • fast connection setup: calls for minimizing the number of round-trips;
  • reliable connection and security context setup: reliable state synchronization requires a three-way handshake); and
  • robustness against attacks from unauthorized or unwanted clients: could be done by filtering connection attempts, by authentication checks, or other parameter checks on the server.

The goal to minimize the number of round-trips can contradict with robustness: For example, in a dynamic web content scenario, spawning a server worker thread for processing a malicious client request that will have to be declined can be huge resource waste and thus make the services susceptible to DOS attacks.

These are general trade-offs in many distributed computing and web-based systems. In Information-Centric Networking (ICN), there can be additional objectives such as maintaining client (consumer) anonymity (to the network) to avoid finger-printing and tracking (ICN does not have source addresses).

Current ICN protocols such as CCNx and NDN have a wide range of useful applications in content retrieval and other scenarios that depend only on a robust two-way exchange in the form of a request and response (represented by an Interest-Data exchange in the case of the two protocols noted above).

A number of important applications however, require placing large amounts of data in the Interest message, and/or more than one two-way handshake. While these can be accomplished using independent Interest-Data exchanges by reversing the roles of consumer and producer, such approaches can be both clumsy for applications and problematic from a state management, congestion control, or security standpoint.

For RICE, Remote Method Invocation for ICN, we developed a corresponding scheme that addresses the different objectives mentioned above.

In draft-oran-icnrg-reflexive-forwarding we have now provided a formal specification of a corresponding Reflexive Forwarding extension to the CCNx and NDN protocol architectures that eliminates the problems inherent in using independent Interest-Data exchanges for such applications. It updates RFC8569 and RFC8609.

The approach that we have taken here is to extend the ICN forwarding node requirements, so in addition to the general state synchronization problems, this Internet Draft raises the question of evolvability of core ICN protocols.

Discussion on the ICNRG mailing list.

Written by dkutscher

April 3rd, 2020 at 5:06 pm

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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

Written by dkutscher

December 16th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

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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

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Compute First Networking (CFN): Distributed Computing meets ICN

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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.

From Application-Layer Overlays to In-Network Computing

Domain-specific distributed computing languages like LASP have gained popularity for their ability to simply express complex distributed applications like replicated key-value stores and consensus algorithms. Associated with these languages are execution frameworks like Sapphire and Ray that deal with implementation and deployment issues such as execution scheduling, layering on the network protocol stack, and auto-scaling to match changing workloads. These systems, while elegant and generally exhibiting high performance, are hampered by the daunting complexity hidden in the underlay of services that 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.

We claim that, especially for compute functions in the network, it is beneficial to design distributed computing systems in a way that allows for a joint optimization of computing and networking resources by aiming for a tighter integration of computing and networking. For example, leveraging knowledge about data location, available network paths and dynamic network performance can improve system performance and resilience significantly, especially in the presence of dynamic, unpredictable workload changes.

The above goals, we believe, can be met through an alternative approach to network and transport protocols: adopting Information-Centric Networking as the paradigm. ICN, conceived as a networking architecture based on the principle of accessing named data, and specific systems such as NDN and CCNx have accommodated distributed computation through the addition of support for remote function invocation, for example in Named Function Networking, NFN and RICE, Remote Method Invocation in ICN and distributed data set synchronization schemes such as PSync.

Introducing Compute First Networking (CFN)

We propose CFN, a distributed computing environment that provides a general-purpose programming platform with support for both stateless functions and stateful actors. CFN can lay out compute graphs over the available computing platforms in a network to perform flexible load management and performance optimizations, taking into account function/actor location and data location, as well as platform load and network performance.

We have published a paper about CFN at the ACM ICN-2019 Conference that is being presented in Macau today by Michał Król. The paper makes the following contributions:

  1. CFN marries a state-of-the art distributed computing framework to an ICN underlay through RICE, Remote Method Invocation in ICN. This allows the framework to exploit important properties of ICN such as name-based routing and immutable objects with strong security properties.
  2. We adopted the rigorous computation graph approach to representing distributed computations, which allows all inputs, state, and outputs (including intermediate results) to be directly visible as named objects. This enables flexible and fine-grained scheduling of computations, caching of results, and tracking state evolution of the computation for logging and debugging.
  3. CFN maintains the computation graph using Conflict-free Replicated Data Types (CRDTs) and realizes them as named ICN objects. This enables implementation of an efficient and failure-resilient fully- distributed scheduler.
  4. Through evaluations using ndnSIM simulations, we demonstrate that CFN is applicable to range of different distributed computing scenarios and network topologies.

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Written by dkutscher

September 25th, 2019 at 3:56 am

Posted in Publications

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