The network as software
Currently, network resources, network services and applications are loosely coupled. Networks provide a single network service, such as constant bit-rate or best-effort routing and support limited or no support to interact with network services. If a network fails or network performance degrades, distributed and networked applications have little or no mechanisms to adapt. However, there is an increasing need to give applications more and more control over the network, i.e. the line between network services and applications is fading. Applications that require a specific quality of service (QoS) to execute, such as streaming or communication intensive distributed applications for example, cannot run on infrastructures do not meet the specific network service demand. Sensor networks are faced with the same problem. In extreme, maintaining and describing specific network services in dynamic environments is a big challenge. This challenge motivates research in new network architectures, programmable network services and application programming paradigms, such as active networks, or more recently, amorphous computing, autonomic computing and macro-programming.
Our research focuses the consequences for network architecture when a network is considered as software components. We are exploring the architectures, design patterns and fundamental software components required to consider the network and its services as integral part of applications, libraries and operating systems.
See also: UPVN
Interactive Networks is an environment to test and develop new ideas on network visualization, analysis, network services and applications. It is currently being built in collaboration with and funded by the UvA SNE group, UvA SCS Lab and TNO ICT. The test bed consists of VMware virtualized infrastructures, FPGA’s and commodity servers and are interconnected with a 10gbit and a 1gbit network infrastructure. In addition, programmable wireless routes and Sun Spots will be connected to the same infrastructure. Through an innovative multi-touch interface users interact with the network. We are currently working on architectural concepts and programming techniques to implement automatic network adaptation from user applications.
See also: Interactive Networks