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July 09, 2003

Far Out Networking

This fall there are two major academic conferences coming up: the yearly SIGCOMM (networks) and the biannual SOSP (operating systems) conferences. Both conferences are extremely selective and and in general the topics represent what are currently the "hot" topics in systems research.

At the SIGCOMM conference there is a session this year about future directions for network research. Although all the papers in this session are worth reading, I have two favorites.

The first paper is A Knowledge Plane for the Internet by David Clark and friends. This paper argues that because of the design of the internet (dumb core, intelligent edges) it is very difficult to operate a network given a set of high level objectives. They propose to add an additional plane (next to the data and control planes) based on AI and cognitive techniques, dubbed the knowledge plane. The purpose of, his plane is to assist in for example fault diagnoses and trigger automatic reconfiguration based on a set of high level objectives.

The second interesting paper is by Kevin Fall from Intel titled  A Delay-Tolerant Network Architecture for Challenged Internets. In this paper Kevin discusses the challenges of deep-space internetworking. What happens to the protocols when your roundtrip times are in the order of minutes instead of milliseconds.

Both papers explore the issues in detail instead of proposing complete solutions, which makes them readable for everyone who wants to understand some of the limitations of today's network architectures.

Posted by Werner Vogels at July 9, 2003 11:33 AM