Monday, November 06, 2000
Kenneth P. Birman
The Next Generation Internet: Unsafe at any Speed?
There is a debate concerning the future directions that the Internet should take. Support has been building for the Next Generation Internet (NGI) Initiative, which would greatly enhance the performance and scalability of the current Internet, while also providing improved Internet access for K-12 schools and investing in new kinds of Internet uses, such as for providing government services over the network. These include safety, revenue and life-critical systems which have traditionally been developed using special-purpose computing technology. The NGI envisions a steady transition of such systems onto a commercial off-the-shelf technology base. There really isn't any alternative; only standard technologies yield cost-effective systems. But this begs the question: What needs to be done to transform the current Internet into the NGI, if critical applications will run upon it? In particular, if the current Internet is unsafe for such applications, why should we expect the NGI to be more safe? The talk suggests that as things stand, the NGI will not be safe for critical uses, but also shows how a simple "virtual overlay network" capability could be developed to plug the major deficiency.