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Review of "Active network vision and reality" by David Sreenivasa Pavan Kuppili

Summary: Review of "Active network vision and reality" by David
Sreenivasa Pavan Kuppili
Active networks form a novel architecture, in which customized programs can be executed at the various
network elements. It gives power to the source node to decide what routines (for example, forwarding rou-
tines) are to be executed at various active nodes along the path to the destination. The advantages of an active
network are it facilitates easy development and experimentation of new Internet services. The main potential
disadvantage is the execution of mobile and untrusted code which leads to serious performance and security
issues. ANTS tries to alleviate overhead by using caching and on-demand loading of code. A hash of the
code implementation is used as a name for the code, and it also serves as a security check for the integrity of
the code. For performance issues, the code is limited to 16KB and is not allowed to run for too long. Besides,
for security reasons, the forwarding routine cannnot be changed on the path, and the routine to be executed
needs to be certified by a third party authority.
One disadvantage is the limitation on the kinds of services which can be developed. There are various
restrcitions on the size and runtime of the code. It might also not be feasible for every router to be an active
node, and so the services need to be incrementally deployable. Besides, it is difficult for different routines to
share state. The hierarchical fingerprint mechansim suggested for sharing state seems a bit ad hoc and is not
easily extensible to more than two routines sharing state. It is also not clear how well caching would work
when active nodes are deployed in an actual Interent, especially in the routers handling a large number of
flows. The experimenatal results in the paper hardly say anything about the performance under heavy load.


Source: Akella, Aditya - Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin at Madison


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences