Managing Next Generation Internet: Issues and Prospects
By Fayaz Akhtar, Mubashir Husain Rehmani, and Alan Davy
Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland
IEEE Internet Policy Newsletter, March 2018
Next Generation Internet (NGI) is set to revolutionize our day-to-day lives, especially the way we communicate and interact with the environment. The modern internet has already evolved from a simple two-node experimental interconnection to an enormous commercial network composed of rapidly increasing nodes as well as various end-user applications. While the initial Internet Protocol (IP)-based connectivity among trusted hosts fulfilled the required expectations of a host-to-host communication model, the plethora of emerging network services and the progressing demands for contents have exposed the internet’s inherent limitations. These constraints include onsite manual configuration, lack of topological view, complicated management, and static performance models that are typically based on host-centric communication rather than content distribution. In fact current networks based on static topologies already pose severe drawbacks in terms of their expansion. As a way to deal with some of the inefficiencies derived from these drawbacks, the industry and academia alike have advocated for the adoption of novel NGI architectures and paradigms, such as software-defined networking (SDN), network virtualization (NV), and information-centric networking (ICN). This prompts the question that if the underlying heterogeneous technologies, architectures, and services that would compose the future internet are dramatically shifting from existing trends, what will be the network management implications? And how would timely dissemination of management data be ensured among these diverse communication paradigms?
Traditional network management approaches consist of static policies implemented in a large number of distributed network nodes through laborious manual configuration. This requires not only rigorous beforehand planning but also regular onsite maintenance of millions of devices, and even after careful consideration of all the aspects, the existing management paradigm can still result in network failure due to unforeseen anomalies. For instance, with the increasing introduction of service-specific managed objects on the internet, it is highly unlikely that the traditional policies would be able to ensure the required quality parameters as these new objects would not only be dealing with resources associated with devices, networks, and services but also the type of content, requested location, and context. The popular SDN paradigm aims to simplify the configuration and management aspect by centralizing the logic (control plane) of underlying distributed network nodes, thus offering more fine-grained control over the dynamic implementation of policies as well as the requirements of managed objects.
Another common management issue with the traditional internet is the overloading of IP address semantics. More precisely, since Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) does not support the management of multiple addresses, multi-homing is not supported in the TCP/IP stack. The concept of locator/identifier (Loc/ID) split networking proposes a decoupling of the overloaded IP address semantics. This Loc/ID concept may help to meet the current needs of the internet.
Transitioning to NGI also brings some issues and possible automation opportunities, which we discuss below.
SDN controller connectivity preferences: SDN controllers can be deployed either in an in-band or out-of-band fashion. For in-band connectivity the SDN controller uses a gateway node to connect to the rest of the nodes in the network similar to a mesh topology. In contrast, out-of-band design has dedicated communication links set up with every network node in the network. While most of the practical deployments to-date have realized SDN architecture through an out-of-band controller deployment, this may change in the future with the industry moving toward in-band deployments due to its ease of deployment and cost benefits. This raises concerns about how the timely dissemination of management data would be ensured not only within a single controller domain but also in inter-domain.
Self-X management: Due to heterogeneous networks and multiple services utilizing them, NGI would manifest a lot of dynamic characteristics, thus further adding to the complexity of the network operations. Although a centralized approach to management helps reduce configuration complexities, it would not prove to be of much use when provided with dynamic demands. The Self-X vision seeks to exploit artificial intelligence capabilities to automate not only the management aspects of the network but also to optimize it. Such integration requires the use of novel learning capabilities to differentiate among various objects as well as coordination protocols.
Privacy and security concerns: Ensuring privacy and security has always been of utmost importance. Most of the future network traffic will be encrypted and guaranteeing quality management over such traffic may not be possible. While new strategies have been proposed which provides optimal quality over encrypted traffic without invading user privacy, but lacks a way to deal with dynamic changes.
Throughput degradation: The frequency of exponentially increasing content traffic on the internet suggests that future internet architectures like Information Centric Networking (ICN) will face a massive spike in the amount of data traffic resulting from a diverse set of services being introduced as well as a rapidly increasing number of devices connecting to the internet. To ensure a satisfactory end-user experience, a high and stable amount of throughput between the sources and the clients is paramount. However, bandwidth limitations, packet losses, and bottlenecks in the network can severely degrade the throughput seen by the applications.
Policy formation: While static policy formation and implementation are prominent in the current internet framework, it might not be the case for NGI. This is because such policies are firmly dependent on a particular technological context or a specific criterion and restrict innovation. In fact, if we look at current trends, it can be observed that the industry is already moving towards dynamic intelligence-centric policies. Another aspect is related to the advancement in technology and the conformity of the internet governing policy. For instance, 5G will try to give seamless connectivity to internet users and serve them by meeting their diverse Quality of Service (QoS) requirements by using virtualization and network slicing concepts, however, it is still unclear how such flexibility will be provided in the presence of the recent European Union Single Market Regulation which states that “All traffic through the internet is treated equally”.
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Fayaz Akhtar received the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Wah Cantt, Pakistan. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Telecommunications Software and Systems Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. His research interests include software-defined networking, network function virtualization, and network coding.
Mubashir Husain Rehmani
Mubashir Husain Rehmani (M’14-SM’15) received the B.Eng. degree in computer systems engineering from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, Pakistan, in 2004, the M.S. degree from the University of Paris XI, Paris, France, in 2008, and the Ph.D. degree from the University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris, in 2011. He is currently working at the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Waterford, Ireland. He served for five years as an Assistant Professor at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Wah Cantt., Pakistan. He is currently an Editor of several prestigious journals such as the IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials and an Associate Editor of the IEEE Communications Magazine, Elsevier Journal of Network and Computer Applications (JNCA), and the Journal of Communications and Networks (JCN). He is also serving as a Guest Editor of Elsevier Ad Hoc Networks journal, Elsevier Future Generation Computer Systems journal, the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, and Elsevier Pervasive and Mobile Computing journal. He has authored/ edited two books published by IGI Global, USA, one book published by CRC Press, USA, and one book with Wiley, U.K. He received “Best Researcher of the Year 2015 of COMSATS Wah” award in 2015. He received the certificate of appreciation, “Exemplary Editor of the IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials for the year 2015” from the IEEE Communications Society. He received Best Paper Award from IEEE ComSoc Technical Committee on Communications Systems Integration and Modeling (CSIM), in IEEE ICC 2017. He consecutively received research productivity award in 2016-17 and also ranked # 1 in all Engineering disciplines from Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST), Government of Pakistan. He also received Best Paper Award in 2017 from Higher Education Commission (HEC), Government of Pakistan.
Alan Davy received the B.Sc. (with Hons.) degree in applied computing and the Ph.D. degree from the Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland, in 2002 and 2008, respectively. Since 2002, he has been with the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group, originally as a student and then, since 2008, as a Post-Doctoral Researcher. In 2010, he was with IIT Madras, India, as an Assistant Professor, lecturing in network management systems. He was a recipient of the Marie Curie International Mobility Fellowship in 2010, which brought him to work at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya for two years. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow and a Research Unit Manager of the Emerging Networks Laboratory, Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Ireland. He is the coordinator of the EU H2020 FETOpen Project CIRCLE: Coordinating European Research on Molecular Communication.
Ali Kashif Bashir
Ali Kashif Bashir (M’15, SM’16) is working as an Associate Professor in Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Faroe Islands, Faroe Islands, Denmark. He received his Ph.D. degree in computer science and engineering from Korea University, South Korea. In the past, he held appointments with Osaka University, Japan; Nara National College of Technology, Japan; the National Fusion Research Institute, South Korea; Southern Power Company Ltd., South Korea, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea. He is also attached to Advanced Network Architecture Lab as a joint researcher. He is supervising/co-supervising several graduate (MS and PhD) students. His research interests include: cloud computing, NFV/SDN, network virtualization, network security, IoT, computer networks, RFID, sensor networks, wireless networks, and distributed computing. He is serving as the Editor-in-chief of the IEEE INTERNET TECHNOLOGY POLICY NEWSLETTER and the IEEE FUTURE DIRECTIONS NEWSLETTER. He is an Editorial Board Member of journals, such as the IEEE ACCESS, the Journal of Sensor Networks, and the Data Communications. He has also served/serving as guest editor on several special issues in journals of IEEE, Elsevier, and Springer. He is actively involved in organizing workshops and conferences. He has chaired several conference sessions, gave several invited and keynote talks, and reviewed the technology leading articles for journals, such as the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL INFORMATICS, the IEEE Communication Magazine, the IEEE COMMUNICATION LETTERS, IEEE Internet of Things, and the IEICE Journals, and conferences, such as the IEEE Infocom, the IEEE ICC, the IEEE Globecom, and the IEEE Cloud of Things.
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About: This newsletter features technical, policy, social, governmental, but not political commentary related to the internet. Its contents reflect the viewpoints of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions and views of IEEE. It is published by the IEEE Internet Initiative to enhance knowledge and promote discussion of the issues addressed.