Section: Research Program

Open network architecture

We are surrounded by personal content of all types: photos, videos, documents, etc. The volume of such content is increasing at a fast rate, and at the same time, the spread of such content among all our connected devices (mobiles, storage devices, set-top boxes, etc) is also increasing. All this complicates the control of personal content by the user both in terms of access and sharing with other users. The access of the personal content in a seamless way independently of its location is a key challenge for the future of networks. Proprietary solutions exist, but apart from fully depending on one of them, there is no standard plane in the Internet for a seamless access to personal content. Therefore, providing network architectural support to design and develop content access and sharing mechanisms is crucial to allow users control their own data over heterogeneous underlying network or cloud services.

On the other hand, privacy is a growing concern for states, administrations, and companies. Indeed, for instance the French CNIL (entity in charge of citizens privacy in computer systems) puts privacy at the core of its activities by defining rules on any stored and collected private data. Also, companies start to use privacy preserving solutions as a competitive advantage. Therefore, understanding privacy leaks and preventing them is a problem that can already find support. However, all end-users do not currently put privacy as their first concern. Indeed, in face of two services with one of higher quality, they usually prefer the highest quality one whatever the privacy implication. This was, for instance, the case concerning the Web search service of Google that is more accurate but less privacy preserving than Bing. This is also the case for cloud services such as iCloud or Dropbox that are much more convenient than open source solutions, but very bad in terms of privacy. Therefore, to reach end-users, any privacy preserving solutions must offer a service equivalent to the best existing services.

We consider that it will be highly desirable for Internet users to be able to easily move their content from a provider to another and therefore not to depend on a content provider or a social network monopoly. This requires that the network provides built-in architectural support for content networking.

In this research direction, we will define a new service abstraction layer (SAL) that could become the new waist of the network architecture with network functionalities below (IP, SDN, cloud) and applications on top. SAL will define different services that are of use to all Internet users for accessing and sharing data (seamless content localisation and retrieval, privacy leakage protection, transparent vertical and horizontal handover, etc.). The biggest challenge here is to cope in the same time with large number of content applications requirements and high underlying networks heterogeneity while still providing efficient applications performance. This requires careful definition of the services primitives and the parameters to be exchanged through the service abstraction layer.

Two concurring factors make the concept behind SAL feasible and relevant today. First, the notion of scalable network virtualization that is a required feature to deploy SAL in real networks today has been discussed recently only. Second, the need for new services abstraction is recent. Indeed, fifteen years ago the Internet for the end-users was mostly the Web. Only eight years ago smartphones came into the picture of the Internet boosting the number of applications with new functionalities and risks. Since a few years, many discussions in the network communities took place around the actual complexity of the Internet and the difficulty to develop applications. Many different approaches have been discussed (such as CCN, SDN) that intend to solve only part of the complexity. SAL takes a broader architectural look at the problem and considers solutions such as CCN as mere use cases. Our objectives in this research direction include the following:

  • Identify common key networking services required for content access and sharing

  • Detect and prevent privacy leaks for content communication

  • Enhance software defined networks for large scale heterogeneous environments

  • Design and develop open Content Networking architecture

  • Define a service abstraction layer as the thin waist for the future content network architecture

  • Test and deploy different applications using SAL primitives on heterogeneous network technologies