Blog Post

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

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, [company]Cisco Systems[/company], [company]Verisign[/company] 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 [company]BitTorrent[/company] 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.

7 Responses to “With Named Data Networking, a group of researchers promise a future without servers and IP addresses”

  1. NDN and ICN in general look like an effort to research a distributed database architecture, not a network architecture. Users make a query for data via Interest packets, where the semantics of the query are embedded in the name and are application-dependent (NDN doesn’t define any name format). Therefore, NDN provides the same service as the one provided by a database (query for data), with the particularity that the database is distributed.

    If this is right, NDN is not comparable to (and a replacement for) TCP/IP, but to other distributed database architectures

  2. Barry Dennis

    Do we believe that all those packets won’t get “tired” of endlesly flying around hither and yon? That without conformation and integrity protocols and even multilevel authentication and verification that incomplete packets or segments won’t get lost, either through corruption on one or both ends-requesting and retreival? Don’t forget corruption is cumulative and compounding.
    Remember the child’s game of a question or other info whispered into the ear of the first child, then in turn passed to the next child’s ear? It is well known that the info reported by the child at the end of the line, compared to what was input at the head of the line, is vastly different

    • Tom Sevali

      Yes, it is the same technology called content-centric networking from PARC (see My understanding is that NDN is an NSF funded academic project to experiment with it (NDN website say it is based on CCNx).

  3. Kinda like the oil companies investing in a cheap fuel that would put their entire model out of business. Real breakthroughs won’t happen unless there is more money to be made.

  4. Eamon Walsh

    Terrific headstart for handling the data avalanche which is on acceleration with each passing day. Reducing the TCP/IP overhead, if coupled with perfected security, could mean a world for big handling. Expect corporate metrics owners, content management and data optimization companies ( to be lining up soon.