Future internet architecture:
Should researchers focus on designing new network architectures or improving the current Internet?
OVer the PaSt severalyears, the networking research community has engaged in an ongoing conversa- tion about how to move
the field—and the Internet itself—
forward. These discussions take place in
the context of the tremendous success
of the Internet, begging the question
of whether researchers should focus on
understanding and improving today’s
Internet or on designing new network
architectures that are unconstrained
by the current system. Ultimately, individual researchers have their own styles,
often a unique blending of both approaches. In this Point/Counterpoint,
Jennifer Rexford and Constantine Dovrolis debate the pros and cons of “clean
slate” and “evolutionary” approaches
to networking research, reflecting on
the larger discussion taking place in the
networking research community.
novation in new applications (created
by anyone who wants to program these
computers) and link technologies (that
can be easily adopted if they support
the basic packet-delivery model). This
has led to innovation far beyond what
any of the early designers of the Internet could have ever imagined.
Given the Internet is so successful,
and apparently so accommodating of
innovation, “clean slate” networking
research may seem strange, even su-
perfluous. Yet, nothing could be fur-
ther from the truth. In fact, clean-slate
design is important for enabling the
networking field to mature into a true
discipline, and to have a future Inter-
net that is worthy of society’s trust.
Contrary to the very premise of our de-
bate, I do not believe that evolutionary
and clean-slate research are at odds.
Insights from clean-slate research can
Point: Jennifer Rexford
The Internet is an undeniable success—a research experiment that escaped from the lab to become a major
part of the global communications
infrastructure. The seeds of the Internet’s success lie in its “underspecified”
design—a minimalist network providing a simple best-effort packet-delivery
service coupled with programmable
computers at the end points. These early design decisions were so important
because they lowered the barriers to in-
“A Model of Internet topology uSIng K-Shell decoMpoSItIon”.proc. nAtl. AcAd. ScI. uSA 104, 11150 (2007)
VISuAlIZAtIon by ShAI cArMI, ShloMo hAVlIn, Scott KIrKpAtrIcK, yuVAl ShAVItt, And erAn ShIr.