Autonomic Network Architecture
 
  
 

Objectives of the ANA Project

The Autonomic Network Architecture (ANA) project has two complementary objectives that iteratively provide feedback to each other: a scientific objective and a technological one. Scientific Objective

To identify fundamental autonomic networking principles that enable networks to scale not only in size but also in functionality. The main premise of our work is that a functionally scaling network is a synonym for an evolving network which includes the various self-x attributes essential to autonomic communication such as self-management, self-optimization, self-monitoring, self-repair, and self-protection. The hypothesis is that, due to these self-x attributes, such functional scaling will naturally lead to networks that are not only richer in functionality but which also scale in size. Scientific research in ANA will explore the “Internet de-construction” trends of functional atomization, diffusion and sedimentation that will replace the current static layering approach.

A new Autonomic Network Architecture will emerge as a result of this research. This architecture will provide the framework for network function re-composition. The goal is to produce an architectural design that enables flexible, dynamic and fully autonomic formation of large-scale networks in which the functionalities of each constituent network node are also composed in an autonomic fashion. This architecture must allow dynamic adaptation and re-organisation of the network according to the working, economical and social needs of the users. Moreover, it must support mobile nodes and multiple administrative domains.

Technological Objective

The second premise in ANA is that the only way to make new ideas and concepts succeed is to put them into practice. Therefore, ANA takes on the challenge of not only producing original scientific research results and a novel architectural design, but also showing that they work in real situations, and using the experience gained experimentally as feedback to refine the architectural models and other research results.

The technological objective of ANA is therefore to build an experimental autonomic network architecture, and to demonstrate the feasibility of autonomic networking within the coming 4 years.

As a first step, a network based on the predominant infrastructure of Ethernet switches and wireless access points will be built. The goal is to demonstrate self-organization of individual nodes into a network. The design of such network should potentially scale to large network meshes in the range of 105 active (routing) elements. Obviously, the consortium alone will not have resources to literally build a network of 105 nodes. In order to show scalability, three approaches are envisaged: a) overlay for interconnecting the participating sites, b) simulations, and c) a distributed open collaborative approach similar to successful initiatives such as “SETI@Home”, “Folding@Home”, to include external experimentators and to disseminate ANA results.

The second step, using insights from the first effort, will loosen the constraints and permit wired and multihop wireless heterogeneous devices to be integrated in an autonomic way. Here the focus is on the self-organization of networks into a global network. The rationale for a two phase approach is that an architecture can only be developed and its quality be validated if more than one case is explored.

These two (scientific and technical) objectives complement and reinforce each other in a tight feedback loop: Prototypes of research results will be implemented in the testbed at an early stage, such that preliminary experimental results can be used as a feedback to steer and refine the architectural design and to obtain more accurate and realistic research results. The research part will shape the testbed in order to maintain it at the fore-front of technology. To help the long term visions to materialize, ANA uses the testbed as an investigative research vehicle while remaining committed to the far looking character of the situated and autonomic networking initiative.