A CONVERSATION WITH VAN JACOBSON
Photography by Steve Skoll
Making the case for content-centric networking
To those with even a passing interest in the history
of the Internet and TCP/IP networking, Van
Jacobson will be a familiar name. During his 25
years at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and subsequent leadership positions at Cisco Systems and Packet
Design, Jacobson has helped invent and develop some of
the key technologies on which the Internet is based. He is
most well known for his pioneering contributions to the
TCP/IP networking stack, his seminal work on alleviating
congestion on the Internet, his leadership in developing
the MBone (multicast backbone), and his development of
several widely used IP networking tools, such as trace-route, pathchar, and tcpdump.
Now a Research Fellow at PARC (Palo Alto Research
Center), Jacobson continues to do groundbreaking work.
His latest work on CCN (content-centric networking) took
the networking community by storm when his seminal
2006 talk, “A New Way to Look at Networking,” was
released on the Web as a Google Tech Talk (http://video.
For our interview this month, we enlisted another
networking heavyweight, Craig Partridge, chief scientist for
networking research at BBN Technologies, to speak with
Jacobson about CCN and what it means for the future of
the Internet. Partridge is an ACM Fellow, a former chair
of ACM SIGCOMM, and was once editor-in-chief of ACM
SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review. Jacobson and
Partridge first met in 1987 when they were both working on TCP-related problems and have been periodically
bouncing research ideas off each other ever since. We are
immensely grateful for their participation and hope that
their discussion helps to enlighten software engineers about
this exciting new direction for networking technology.
CRAIG PARTRIDGE In a paragraph or two, can you
describe the gist of what content-centric networking is to
somebody who knows a little bit about how the Internet
works? What does CCN do to that model?
VAN JACOBSON The easiest place to start is the history.
The networking that we use today grew out of work in
the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, the problem that
people wanted to solve was what we call a
resource-sharing problem today. You had one computer that had a tape
drive and another that didn’t, or one computer that had a
printer and another that didn’t.
There were not all that many computers, and they
were big and expensive. Everything that was attached to
them was big and expensive, and it was a really interesting problem to be able to share this big, expensive gear
among computers. The model that drove the networking
development was, “Can we extend the I/O bus so that we
can share these resources between machines?”