Thursday, September 2, 2010

Future internet impressions

I just finished reading a conference paper entitled A Data-Oriented (and Beyond) Network Architecture. It was very interesting and I wish to share some thoughts I found interesting. This paper takes a "clean-slate" look at internet naming and addressing. I find this an interesting read in loo of the answer-to-all-our-addressing-problems IPv6 not taking hold. So what is the problem with what is currently being used? This paper explains that the internet naming and addressing scheme is centered around getting a user connected to a particular machine in order to request content and services. Interestly, when people use the internet, it is not about what machine or server they are connected to that's important, it's about the content and/or services that machine provides. Users could care less if they were connected to a server in Texas or a server in India, just as long as they get the content they requested. This paper changes addressing in such a way that an address or name no longer refers to "where," it refers to "what."

So this new name addressing system is supposed to make it easier for users to get at content and services, but I think they might run into issues when it comes to usability. One of the great weaknesses of the addressing scheme and that of IPv6 as well, in my opinion, is that the addresses are not user friendly. With IPv6 it is all wonderful and great that the address space is practically limitless, but I know many IT organizations that will never move it because they can't memorize the addresses. The same is true for this paper--the address is comprised of a cryptographic hash and a label. When was the last time you memorized a hash? Don't get me wrong, I think there is great value in referencing content by name, but only if the name it is given makes sense.

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