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Network-Layer Research

Information-Centric Networking (ICN)

Given that the vast majority of interactions over the Internet concern content access, researchers have been considering restructuring the fundamental Internet architecture around content names instead of node addresses. Relevant approaches bring in the benefits of inherent multicast, reduced network utilisation through in-network caching, avoidance of flash-crowd situations, avoidance of spam control and inherent content security among others. This research area is known as Information-Centric Networks (ICN) and at CISG we have been actively working on it since its establishment, helping shaping some of its fundamental aspects. Our efforts have been supported by both EU funding under the Framework Programme 7 and by UK EPSRC funding.

Research on ICN at the CISG group started in early 2010 with the EU FP7 COMET project (2010-2013). COMET was masterminded by UCL and pioneered a content mediator architecture for content-aware networks. It proposed an evolutionary, i.e. non-clean slate, approach for the shift to ICN by physically splitting the data-/forwarding-plane from the control-plane. The new control-plane, called mediation plane, is responsible for mediating content and taking care of a number of content and network-related functions. These include, among others, location-independent content resolution, server and network load monitoring, as well as decisions on in-network content caching. The forwarding or data plane is responsible for realising the rules set by the mediation plane. COMET results received wide attention by the research community and established it as one of the flagship projects in the area.

Research on ICN has been continued by two additional projects and two further research directions in this area. The EU-Japan GreenICN project (2013-2016) investigates the architecture and applications of Green Information Centric Networking. It brings together research institutes from both Europe and Japan, under a collaboratively funded scheme from both EU FP7 and NICT. The project focuses on energy-efficient Information-Centric Networking under two distinct use-cases:

  • The first use-case targets disaster scenarios, and in particular post-disaster management from the communication network's perspective. After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake it was made clear that base stations suffer severe damages that result in fragmented networks. Communication resilience in this case is of vital importance in order to manage first responders’ teams and provide first aid to civilians in the affected areas.
  • The second use-case focuses on non-disaster cases and attempts to optimise mobile video delivery. Video is claimed to be the next "killer app" for the Internet and the ICN technology exhibits a number of properties that can help optimise network resource utilisation.

In addition to ICN applicability to mostly wireless networks through GreenICN, we are also continuing our research to the application of ICN principles to the fixed Internet through the UK EPSRC COMIT project (2014-2017). This focuses on Active Content Management at Internet Scale and takes a more pragmatic route towards ICN by retaining address-based IP routing but realizing name-based operation and associated transport mechanisms on top of it. COMIT focuses on the following:

  • a fully backwards compatible network architecture with the current Internet, which integrates all the benefits of Information-Centric Networking, but at the same time guarantees smooth migration with minimal disruption and changes to the network core, and,
  • a revolutionary congestion control approach, which makes use of mid-path network resources (as compared to end-to-end resource management and congestion control). The new congestion control framework works in a hop-by-hop manner to guarantee efficient network resource utilisation and improved end-to-end performance.

We finally consider ICN-like in-network caching scenarios in the current Internet as an evolution of Content Distribution Networks (CDNs). CDN providers place surrogate servers at ISP network edges to reduce access latency and bandwidth utilisation but exert strain on ISP networks, possibly affecting other services. Given that ISPs are increasingly deploying caches at network edges, we are examining models of cooperation between CDNs and ISPs and develop collaborative content placement and server selection strategies to yield better network performance and result in better user quality of experience. This work relates also to our network and service management activities.

Network Routing

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Overlay Networking

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Network Measurement and Analysis

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Academics involved in the theme:


Representative projects:


Representative publications:

I. Psaras, W. Chai, G. Pavlou, In-Network Cache Management and Resource Allocation for Information-Centric Networks, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE, 2014.

D. Tuncer, M. Charalambides, R. Landa, G. Pavlou, More Control Over Network Resources: an ISP Caching Perspective, Proc. of the IFIP/IEEE Conference on Network and Service Management (CNSM'2013), Zurich, Switzerland, October 2013.
I. Psaras, W.K. Chai, G. Pavlou, Probabilistic In-Network Caching for Information-Centric Networks, Proc. of 2nd ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Information-Centric Networking (ICN’2012), Helsinki, Finland, August 2012.

W.K. Chai, D. He, I. Psaras, G. Pavlou, Cache "Less for More" in Information-Centric Networks, Proc. of IFIP Networking 2012, Prague, Czech republic, Springer, May 2012 – Best conference paper award

I. Psaras, R. Clegg, R. Landa, W.K. Chai, G. Pavlou, Modelling and Evaluation of CCN-Caching Trees, Proc. of IFIP Networking 2011, Valencia, Spain, Springer, May 2011

W.K. Chai, N. Wang, I. Psaras, G. Pavlou, C. Wang, G. Garcia, F.J. Ramon, L. Liang, S. Spirou, A. Beben, E. Hadjioannou, CURLING: Content-Ubiquitous Resolution and Delivery Infrastructure for Next Generation Services, IEEE Communications, special issue on Future Media Internet, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 112-120, IEEE, March 2011.