Can the TCP/IP protocol be replaced with a totally different one?
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September 5, 2014
Networking equipment maker Cisco, the U.S. National Science Foundation, Verisign, Panasonic and various
scientists from around the globe have thrown in their weight behind a newer, so-called “Named Data Networking
The new initiative aims to develop “a practically deployable set of protocols replacing TCP/IP that
increases network trustworthiness and security, addresses the growing bandwidth requirements of modern
content, and simplifies the creation of sophisticated distributed applications.”
The group met for the first time in Los Angeles yesterday and will continue their meeting today.
The University of California, Los Angeles, UC San Diego, Colorado State University, the University of
Arizona, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the University of Memphis, the University of
Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis have all joined the effort, and the gathering promises
to be interesting.
Korea's Anyang University, China's Tongji and Tsinghua Universities, the University of Basel (Switzerland)
and Japan's Waseda University are also aboard the effort.
Additionally, Intel, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Comcast and European ISP Orange are also
contributing to the effort to create the new protocols.
Work on the Named Data Networking (NDN) has been going on for some time-- the National Science Foundation
has already been pumping in cash since 2010. The significance of this launch is that the IT industry is now
involved, and the consortium is committed to producing open-source software to take researchers' work
beyond the hypothetical.
Patrick Crowley, an associate professor of computer science & engineering at Washington University's
School of Engineering & Applied Science says the group's efforts aim to preserve “the balance between
sharing information and protecting privacy at the same time.”
“Right now, that is very difficult for Internet protocols to handle,” he said, “but something at which
Crowley goes on to explain that NDN will be able to inform users if data on a bank's site was
produced and signed by that bank. Currently, the TCP/IP protocol has no way to perform such a verification.
NDN will therefore improve internet security, if the new proposal is soon implemented. The
consortium says today's internet lacks security because it “was designed originally as as a trusted communication network so
the only entities that could be named in its packets were communication endpoints.” We all know today
that the internet is *not* a trusted network anymore.
Under the new NDN proposal, the name in a packet “can be anything — an endpoint, a chunk of movie
or a book, a command to turn on some lights, etc.” By allowing more specific addressing, NDN offers much greater
control, the group says.
The consortium also says its approach won't break the current internet, but will offer a “thin waist”
allowing communication among many different entities.
The consortium hopes to publish “A specification of the new standard formats for the two packet types,
Interest and Data, in NDN data delivery” so that both simple carriage along the lines of TCP/IP and NDN's
more nuanced approach to verifying content's source and connecting entities to content can be achieved.
However, there's no fixed delivery date for those new specifications, but the National Science
Foundation's cash runs out in 2016.
Many of the new commercial members have deep pockets however, so it will be no surprise if they
kick in some funds to keep the project running until something useful comes in.
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