With Named Data Networking, a group of researchers promise a future without servers and IP addresses

networking abstract

A team of researchers from universities and big tech companies have united to advance and popularize the concept of Named Data Networking (NDN), which calls for a new type of internet architecture that does away with the standard Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol that’s currently used to distribute information over the web.

The Named Data Networking Consortium — whose members include team leader University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Michigan, Cisco Systems, Verisign and others — held the first of its series of meetings on Wednesday and Thursday of this week in which they discussed the current state of NDN and its potential to improve scientific research.

Earlier this summer, Gigaom’s Stacey Higginbotham detailed how NDN fits into the future of the internet and how the emerging technology could take advantage of the connected world. In its simplest form, today’s era of networking involves servers that transmit data to recipients based on their device’s IP addresses. What makes NDN interesting is that it would eliminate the need of servers and IP addresses in order to funnel data between users.

With Named Data Networking, a user will be able to send out a request for information called an interest packet that the router can store in what’s known as a pending interest table; basically, a holding ground for all requests. From there, the router can scour the web and the multiple devices connected to it to find the appropriate data that the user wants. Because the data is stored in a data packet that contains a unique name, the router can intelligently locate all instances where the data may be hosted and stream that data directly to the user in bits and pieces. The idea is similar to how the peer-to-peer file sharing company BitTorrent functions in that if you wanted to download a movie, for example, you would do so by connecting directly to other users who transmit fragments of the movie to your own device.

How NDN works

How NDN works

The Named Data Networking Consortium believes that while the underlying way the internet currently functions is capable of supporting the myriad connected devices and transmission of data to those devices, the NDN model of networking is much more appropriate for the future; this model could potentially lead to better network security, a better way to meet the increasing need bandwidth and can perhaps make it easier to develop complex applications.

The NDN project is supported by the National Science Foundation and has received over $13.5 million in funding since 2010.

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