Blog of Random Thoughts and Pictures

RINA is networking and networking is IPC

August 24th, 2010

I’ve been involved in some research recently which has more than a passing interest in the networking concepts of RINA a clean slate Internet architecture which is proposing to resolve the challenges of today’s internet.
 PhotoCredit: jurvetson on Flickr
The reason for the interest is that RINA has brought the networking challenge back to it’s basics, and bases itself on the concept that networking is just Inter Process Communication (IPC).
This is to say in a RINA world any two application processes in different systems are able to communicate using the services provided by a DIF. A DIF is nothing more than a number of cooperating application processes, with the DIF as the structural unit for organizational purposes, which in another way could be referred to as a ”layer”.
A DIF is different from the traditional definition of layer in the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) architecture. Firstly, a DIF does not perform a single function or small subset of pre-determined functions, but a coordinated set of policy managed functions to achieve the desired IPC service.
Secondly, the DIF naturally separates various concerns, including operation over different timescales (e.g. short -term data transfer and multiplexing vs. long-term connection management and access control issues). By the way DIFs are repeated, making RINA recursive.
This proposal of a new network architecture through RINA is currently being evaluated by its ability to address the shortcomings of the current Internet architecture and how it manages to provide solutions to these issues.
To paraphrase the researchers at Boston University (BU), RINA tackles the following set of challenges and provides an answer to most of them without extra effort but inherently:
Multihoming: By adopting and extending Saltzer’s proposal [1] for a naming and addressing schema, RINA names nodes as well as interfaces (Point of Attachment (PoA)). Thus, it is able to identify a node by its name and achieve multihoming.
Mobility: RINA simply sees this as a dynamic version of multihoming with controlled “link failures”, i.e., as a wireless signal becomes weak, the link “fails”.
Multicast: For RINA all addressing (anycast, multicast) can be treated as a set of addresses and a rule. The rule determines the number of members in a set that satisfy the rule.
Security: RINA addresses security in that a DIF provides a secure container. Users of the DIF only see the destination application name and a local handle. RINA does not use addresses nor well- known ports.
Policy Based Configuration: With RINA, policy and mechanism are separated. By using policies in conjunction with the common mechanisms, RINA can be configured to meet the different requirements of applications.
A detailed overview of RINA innovations and features can be found in the papers [2, 3, 4]. Tutorials and reference material are available from the Pouzin Society (PSOC) website.
[1]. J. H. Saltzer. On the naming and binding of network destinations. In Proceedings IFIP/TC6 International Symposium on Local Computer Networks, pages 311–317, April 19-21 1982.
[2] J. Day. How PNA Works: The Future of Networking [pdf].
[3] J. Day. Patterns in Network Architecture: A Return to Fundamentals (ISBN 0132252422), December 2007.
[3] J. Day, I. Matta, and K. Mattar. “Networking is IPC”: A guiding principle to a better internet [pdf]. In CoNEXT ’08: Proceedings of the 2008 ACM CoNEXT, pages 1–6. ACM, 2008.

Advanced networking on the Perimeter

July 19th, 2010

The Perimeter project is heading into its thrid year and is really starting to build up a head a steam. The project is looking to achieve seamless mobility driven by actual user needs rather than simply business considerations. Putting the users at the centre rather than the operator enables them to finely control the way their identity, preferences and credentials are used.
In order to explore this space the project recently released its view on how emergency services could be enhanced with the aid of Perimeter mobility technology. This depiction of the emergency scenario is further explained by the TSSG researchers, Frances, Eileen and Gemma on the Perimeter blog.
In supporting this technological roll out and testing, the TSSG team have procured a FEDERICA slice for use within the project. The slice consists of five virtual nodes, which will be

used to deploy the PERIMETER Support Nodes and will allow for a natural maturation of the of the interconnection from a Layer 3 to a Layer 2 connection between the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Technische Universitaet Berlin (TUB) testbeds used in PERIMETER. The slice will be used for a variety of purposes within PERIMETER including scalability, performance, network overloading and disruptive testing.

From my perspective this is a significant milestone as not only does it extend our testing capabilities in the TSSG, but goes some way to proving the existence of experimentally-driven research methodology in the area of the Future Internet. In talking to Eileen, Gemma and Frances they have a more precise definition and have added this opinion to the recently publihsed paper by the FIREworks Support Action. As we drive into the third and final year of the project I’m quite sure experience will further refine this experimentally-driven research methodology.

The CBA Network Stack prototype has been open sourced

July 9th, 2010

When starting ICT 4WARD as a project in 2008 I must admit I never thought we’d get so far as to carry out an open source release of code. Given that 4WARD was set the task of taking a clean slate approach to designing a future Internet, and one of the TSSG’s roles in this was to help develop an integrated framework to represent, design, implement and operate network architectures, then open source was not something that immediately came to the fore.
However when we went about tackling this task, Patsy grounded our thoughts in the software industry, he identified that the problem faced is not just a networking one, but a networking combined with software issue. Deploying protocols and network functions as compiled C/C++ kernel modules has the advantage of being highly efficient. Unfortunately, kernel modules that can be safely composed and reused can be quite hard to develop. Weak data typing, lack of well-defined module interfaces, possibly intricate data dependencies between modules, platform dependence, absence of fault isolation, and a development and execution environment unfamiliar to most programmers are some of the major stumbling blocks.
Photo on Flickr by anolobb
To attempt to overcome these problems Patsy wanted us to use a modern object-orientated language in order to allow the Network Architect to use a new environment to make the first prototypes of developed network solutions. Java is platform independent and has much stronger type checking than C/C++. By design, it explicitly disallows many “dangerous” operations such as reckless memory management and pointer manipulations, which one can perform with C/C++.
However in going this route clearly there are increased demands on the software product, for robustness, reliability, flexibility and ease of deployment. As these demands were growing, the complexity of the processes that the software manages is increasing along with demands for the integration of processes from different areas. As a consequence, we found the software programs becoming larger and more complex which was having a huge knock on effect when it comes to the introduction of new concepts on the networking side.
Patsy spotted that Component Based Architecture (CBA) is an approach that is used to address these demands and is core to the Component Based Software Engineering (CBSE), and so he applied this approach to the Networking Stack.
CBSE was used to model network nodes and topology. The transformation from the models to an execution environment based on Java and OSGi simplified the transition from high level networking concepts from a network architects perspective into the deployed software implementations.
From there Patsy worked on the Component-Based Architecture network stack prototype which has implemented a software component infrastructure for flexible experimentation of network protocols. The protocol components are written in Java but conform to the requirements of the CBA architecture within the Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) framework.
So today it is a great pleasure to announce that we have released as open source the component based architecture network stack prototype.

Future Internet PPP Architecture workshop

June 16th, 2010

Had an interesting trip to rainy Madrid on June 9th for the EFII organised Future Internet PPP Architecture workshop.
Between Kevin D. and myself we took a critical read of the EFFI position paper on the Core Platform [pdf] and from this review produced the following response [pdf].
Through this response paper we highlight some recommendations towards the Core Platform architecture and basic architectural principles. From there we highlight some additional functionalities which could be considered in the 13 generic enablers.
I must say the tough part was condensing this whole paper into a 10 minute presentation, but after some hard cutting of text and slides I got there.

Future Internet Public-Private-Partnership (PPP)

March 22nd, 2010

I had the pleasure of traveling from one sunny South-East (Waterford) to another sunny South-East (Nice), with a short hop & stop in Luton, for the European Commission lead Future Internet Public-Private-Partnership event on March 12th.
Photo Credit: Flickr
The Commission is underlining the importance of building a Future Internet Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) and committed to kick-start this initiative in 2010 by allocating a total of 300 million euros under FP7 ICT Theme until 2013.
The full agenda for the event can be found here with nearly all the slides avaialble for viewing, but for an easy way of coming up to speed on the event there is a video webinar of the event and each presentation. I would recommend you review the following videos:
Aims of the Future Internet PPP ( 18min )
Presentations on the scope and modalities of the Future Internet PPP ( 19min )
Presentations on the scope and modalities of the Future Internet PPP ( 13min )
Vision from ICT industry on technical aspects of the Future Internet PPP ( 20min )
Contribution of academia and research centres to the Future internet PPP ( 15min )

Update on Irish Future Internet Forum

February 7th, 2010

I’ve wanted to catch up on my writings in the past few weeks, but before moving on into the new year I would like to take a minute to reflect on what has just passed, and in particular the Irish Future Internet Forum.
I was worried about the running of the event, I knew it was slightly more security focused than I really wanted it to be, but I shouldn’t have worried! As I mentioned in the lead up to the event the TSSG team around me were just fantastic and were always pushing to ensure that the event ran smoothly and man did the workshop run smoothly.
On the prep day, the day before the event was due to kick-off there was a ton of things happening all at once, international speakers were starting to arrive, audio/ visuals were quickly getting into place and sure enough the IT infrastrure folks in the Digital Hub were stress testing the wireless network. I must say I was delighted to see this testing, while I would hope an audience are 100% focused on every single minute of the workshop, well really you have to be realistic and ensure to offer a couple of amiable services, one of which has to be immediate internet access for a tech savy audience.
And prep days are great for pushing you to the limits, highlighting all the little things you’ve forgotten to bring with you to the ‘foreign’ workshop venue, from power cords, to print outs, and that one poster you really should have brought! After a few quick sharpe phonecalls and everything seemed to fall in to shape. Well maybe that’s a bit naive, things don’t just fall into place, I must admit there was a very specific plan in place with some weeks which Deirdre, Zeta and myself tried our hardest to stick to and once we did I really did see things starting to fall into place.
Before closing out the prep-day, there was a late call and interview with Newstalk which lasted about 20 mins, and I think it got airtime the following day for about 30 secs. Oh well so much for the 15 mins of fame, looks like I’d have to do 100 hrs of yapping and really I’m not that bothered.
So the big day arrives and before the crack of dawn I was ready of the early start, but I don’t think the lads will ever forgive me for such an early start and given that the first 45 mins were slow going I wondered myself whether it was worth it, but it turned out it was. There were some small items to sort out but I found that once attendees started to arrive, that was it, there was next to no time to concerntrate on anything for more that 30 secs, as there’s the meet, the greet, the make sure we have all the speakers and their up-to-date slides, the press media, the ATTENDEES. In this supercharged time I can highly recommend code whispers, yes those guys with the walkie talkies were a life saver, and ensured that we were never out of sync between the goings on of the ground floor entrance, the arrival of the Minister and the 1st floor workshop room where everyone had gathered.
We had anticipated some delay in the ministers arrival, but to my surprise he was bang on time and after a few press photos we got the event underway.
I’ll leave to the fine detail of the wokshop outcomes to the official report, although nearly all the slides, including outcome results can seen on Slideshare.
And finally hopefully the photo gallery captures the mood of the event.\

Irish Future Internet Forum 2009

November 22nd, 2009

This years running of the Irish Future Internet Forum is nearly upon us (December 3rd 2009), although it has been looming large on my horizon for some time now as I’ve been charged with the workshop chair.


As with any event, the pace of organisation directly from myself was quite slow over the summer months but with the drive into autumn and with significant help of Zeta, Jim, Brian, Kieran, Deirdre, Edel and others over the past few months I think we’ve pulled together an engaging agenda for the day.
So my biggest fear now other than, the days weather, the venue, the speakers, the audio visuals, the catering, and a multitude of other small items .. but no the fear is for the attendees!
I keep wondering, is the programme engaging or is this another one of these same-oh events, packed with presentations, but with little take home ideas and no interaction with the audience?
The team here have been pushing me hard not to let it happen, brainstorming ideas on how to layout the break out sessions, helping with putting things in place that hopefully will entice people to raise questions and even suggest ways forward on the Future Internet and what it may mean for Ireland.
I tell you what, it’s not easy “thinking” about what the audience would appreciate, so as I head into the final week of preparation it might be an idea for me to ask, what would you like to see at the Irish Future Internet Forum?
The comment line is open on this blog post.
On twitter I’ll watch out @IFIForum, or hashtag your comments #ifif

Future Internet Assembly Q4 2009

November 22nd, 2009

Busy and interesting couple of weeks coming up in regards to Future Internet activities.
This week sees the running of the 4th European Future Internet Assembly in Stockholm (Kista), with a large contingent from the TSSG in attendance, running & participating in sessions, demonstrating TSSG wares on our stand, and hosting a number of posters on TSSG Future Internet research.

The Internet of Thingemebobs

August 31st, 2009

So over the coffee break chat leads to a discussion about “The Internet of Things” and how it might pan out …. little radio tags on everything, everything connected to the net, you can interact with everything and you can … you can … build in SECURITY!
Now hang on a second, am I wrong but is there a contradiction going on there, everything in the first case is open as we discuss the possibilities but it always seems to lead to a closed, wall gardened system, which for me may indicate that the vision for an Internet of Things may not be realised.
So do I BELIEVE. I’ve been trying, I have on my desk TikiTags ……. sorry correction in 2008 they were TikiTags, in 2009 they’re TouchTags.

Its a small RFID enabled system in which RFID tags (stickers) once read connects with the touchatag Application Correlation Server (ACS) which manages the link between an RFID tag and a corresponding action to be initiated. The ACS then directs the internet-enabled device to access the appropriate online content and applications. The price point is responsible.
Now I have the device so what to tag ….. hmmm what to tag indeed, what exactly shall I tag, its driving me mad!!!!
The first tag was rather easy I placed it on my WIT card (a card based purchasing system for cafeteria food). The top up system has a related website so when I need to add funds to the card online I just place my wallet over the TouchTag reader and off we go …… and immediately there lays the problem, I have a laptop, the TouchTag reader is USB based, so I have to make sure I have it plugged into the laptop everytime, which after a month just doesn’t happen. Is the solution that the RFID reader has Bluetooth connectivity so the laptop can connect to it wirelessly? But then how do we power the RFID reader?
Also I cannot put any more TouchTags in my wallet, as the reader will pick up all of them and carry out the related action, (I was thinking of 3 tags for 3 cards) but really there can only be one tag per 10cm area.
Okay the next tag ….. I was going for one on the coffee cup, one wipe close the TouchTag reader and a Twitter or IM message pops out “miguelpdl is going for coffee” and then I thought “So What” after 20 message like that and people are just not going to be interested and so all this really does is mark the exact time I go for coffee everyday. Also clean the cup a couple of times and the tag is gone. Is the possible solution that the tags are fabricated into the product?
So right now I’m not a believer …. yet, but I have 16 tags left, if you have some ideas as to where I should place them on things, let me know and I’ll give it a go.
Photo credit ginnerobot on Flickr

The Internet of things, but where do they go?

June 15th, 2009

The Chumby, an interactive mediaplayer that streams content from the Internet into chumby widgets. They’re not offically shipped to my home location so I picked one up from ebay and I must admit it got here quick flash (excuse the pun Chumby uses FlashLite for the widgets).
Now you can read the hype over and over, and I did and starting to believe it, until I got my hands one.
Now don’t get me wrong, it looks great, and you can connect it to accounts on flickr, twitter, facebook, picasa, urban quotes of the day and you can stream internet radio and I thought all these features would be great ….. but the first problem I found is that it is really a glorified alarm clock, and with the fact that there is some distance between my wifi router and the bedroom the Chumby just wouldn’t connect to the network and when the Chumby cannot connect to the network its just unusable ….. even as an alarm clock.
I moved things around, got a signal in the bedroom and after a week I realised the Chumby was getting no eye time …… I go to sleep in the bedroom, read books/magazines if I get the chance but sitting beside my bed waiting for the Chumby channels to change just isn’t compelling enough, so I decided to move it to the living area.
First to the living room …. after 1 week nope, no good the TV already takes all the attention.
Second to the hall beside the phone … after 2 weeks nope, very passing glances but no eyeball time
In a corner in the Kitchen …. after 2 days nope too far away to read anything on the screen, to see what’s worth reading
On top of the microwave in the Kitchen ….. perfect it’s lasted 2 months and gets more passing glances morning, evening and late at night.
Photo Credit miguelpdl on Flickr
And for me the best widgets on Chumby, are the FaceBook photo feature, which displays friends pictures once they push them out and the Yo Mama is So Fat jokes widget.