NDN-NP Project 2014-2015 Annual Report

We recently published our annual report covering our activities from May 2014 through April 2015. We excerpt the executive summary here, for the entire report see http://named-data.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ndn-ar2015.pdf:

The heart of the current Internet architecture is a simple, universal network layer (IP) which implements all the functionality necessary for global interconnectivity. This thin waist was the key enabler of the Internet’s explosive growth, but its design choice of naming communication endpoints is also the cause of many of today’s persistently unsolved problems. NDN retains the Internet’s hourglass architecture but evolves the thin waist to enable the creation of completely general distribution networks. The core element of this evolution is removing the restriction that packets can only name communication endpoints. As far as the network is concerned, the name in an NDN packet can name anything — an endpoint, a data chunk in a movie or a book, a command to turn on some lights, etc. This conceptually simple change allows NDN networks to use almost all of the Internet’s well-tested engineering properties to solve not only communication problems but also digital distribution and control problems.

Our first four years of NDN design and development efforts (which has a 4-month overlap with NDN-NP) tackled the challenge of turning this vision into an architectural framework capable of solving real problems. Our application-driven architecture development efforts force us to fill in architectural details, and most importantly, verify and shape the architectural direction. We translated our vision to a simple and elegant packet format design, a modular and extensible NDN forwarding daemon, and a set of libraries, including security support, to support application development. These achievements establish a platform that enabled us to tackle new application environments as we stated in the NDN-NP proposal: open mobile health applications, building automation and management systems, and multimedia applications. We achieved all our major milestones for the first year of the NDN-NP project. Highlights include:

  • Design, implementation, public release, and testbed deployment of a new NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD). The basic NFD design goals are modularity and extensibility to enable experimentation with new protocol features, forwarding data structures and algorithms, and applications.
  • Design and preliminary implementation of pilot applications for our network environments, addressing namespace design, trust management, and end-user requirements. We also designed and implemented a real-time videoconferencing application to explore how to leverage NDN features in low-latency communication.
  • Continued work on a portfolio of libraries used to develop NFD, network environment pilots, and other applications, including a new high-level API and research in transport mechanisms uniquely supported on NDN, such as SYNC and information maximization.
  • Further development of NDN security support, implemented in the libraries and motivated by the requirements of the network environments: trust management, encryption-based access control, signing and verification schema, and support tools.
  • Development of NDNS, a DNS-like resolution system that can securely store any named data, including certificates, and NDN links used for publisher mobility support in Open mHealth.
  • Evaluation of hyperbolic routing performance to understand its feasibility in supporting NDN’s interdomain routing.
  • The establishment of the NDN Consortium to promote a vibrant open source ecosystem of research and experimentation around NDN, and the organization of the first NDN Community meeting.

In the process of these achievements we have created and enjoyed many opportunities for training and education of the NDN team, our students, and collaborators, expanding the global community of researchers with skills and experience in the thriving field of Internet architecture research and development. Next year, we will dive more deeply into research issues raised by the environments, including privacy support through group encryption, support for mobile publishers, and scaling and feedback control in BMS. These activities will bring new understanding to issues in the NDN architecture: namespace design, distributed data synchronization, usable trust management, and extremely scalable routing and forwarding. We have also participated in strategic planning conversations with the Department of Energy, who is considering restructuring their own network research program to support their persistent networking problems, most of which have their roots in limitations of TCP/IP that have motivated the design of NDN.

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