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POINT: iP Over IcN - the betTer ip

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - POINT (POINT: iP Over IcN - the betTer ip)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2018-02-28

The Internet has grown well beyond what it was originally designed for, with critical functions of societies, companies and individuals increasing becoming dependent on it. To facilitate new applications, including but not limited to IPTV, on a global scale, new technologies are needed to cope with the challenges of capacity, robustness and security.

Information-Centric Networking (ICN) is seen as one possible solution to many of the problems of the current Internet. Earlier work, including that performed in the FP7 PURSUIT project, strongly indicates that IP-based applications can run ‘better’ on an IP-over-ICN network architecture than on existing IP-centric networks. Despite the evidence, this statement can only be treated as a hypothesis, when considering a fully developed business value chain. Consequently, a need exists for innovation-driven research and proof-of-concept work to prove this hypothesis in commercially realistic settings.

The main goal of the POINT project is to develop technology, innovations, and business value chains for commercially viable IP-over-ICN networking. This is necessary in order to encourage and facilitate stakeholders transitioning to the IP-over-ICN networking paradigm. Without such proof, no such transition can take place, as purely academic work is not convincing enough for the stakeholders to invest in an emerging networking technology.

The POINT project is innovating on IP-over-ICN solutions, building on prior academic work with the following objectives: 1) definition of key performance indicators (KPIs) which define what is meant with ‘better’, 2) definition of a network architecture and a platform based on it, 3) design and implementation of abstractions to enable standard Internet applications to run on our ICN-based platform, 4) design and implementation of resource coordination mechanisms, 5) creation of a POINT prototype platform to be tested against the KPIs in both testbed and emulation environments as well as 6) in an operational trial, 7) evaluation of the commercial viability of an IP-over-ICN alternative to IP networks, and 8) establishing POINT as a key driver in the ICN community.

Over its three-year duration, the project managed to progress in its key technical contributions from Technology Readiness Level 2 (“technology concept formulated”) to Technology Readiness Level 7 (“system prototype demonstration in operational environment”). Since starting from the concept of IP over ICN, within three years, it managed to trial novel services to users, in the form of an AR game in the BIO environment, and support the commercially available IPTV and HLS services offered by PrimeTel in an open trial in actual user homes in Cyprus.
We specified, designed, implemented and validated our platform in 3 cycles (0 through 2) during the project, feeding the results of WP4 “Validation” and WP5 “Trials” back to WP2 “Architectural Specification” and WP3 “Development”. In Cycle 0, we produced a proof-of-concept prototype of the platform by the end of month 8 of the project. In Cycle 1, we produced a fully functional platform, augmented with resource coordination mechanisms and the abstractions needed to run existing applications on the POINT platform. This prototype was tested extensively (in WP4) in the lab and in testbeds and the results were fed back into WP2 and WP3. In Cycle 2, we produced an improved platform for field trials. The platform was deployed and tested at the PrimeTel and Bristol is Open trials (WP5) and evaluated (WP4) using the data gathered from trials and through testbeds. These results were fed back into WP2 and WP3 to produce updated platform specifications and the final release of the POINT prototype. After the 3 development cycles, we finalised the platform, completed the documentation, analysed the results, and created final versions of the key deliverables.

Overall, the project designed, implemented and validated the POINT platform, successfully testing it in two real-world field trials. The project produced 26 peer-reviewed publications and received several mentions in mainstream media. POINT was also active in trade shows such as MWC and very actively participated in standardization bodies such as IETF and IRTF.
The project initially set to provide evidence that IP-based services provided over an ICN-based underlay would yield significant benefits, such as cost reductions and performance improvements. Work is currently ongoing in collaboration with the H2020 RIFE project for the cost aspects of an IP-over-ICN deployment. However, some cost aspects have already been addressed in the work on SDN integration, which showed significant cost reduction due to constant TCAM memory requirements, with the number of flow entries linear to the number of output ports (not the number of flows traversing the switch). Also, the reduced interaction between SDN controller and switches (only required for inventory updates, such as during initial bootstrapping) significantly reduces the complexity of managing networks, although concrete numbers on this aspect have not been provided yet.

Such KPI-based evidence is, however, only one aspect of the possible socio-economic impact of POINT. Another one is through adoption of the technology itself, a prerequisite for any impact creation. In this aspect, POINT has initiated significant standardization efforts in the space of 5G technologies, most notably for utilizing POINT technologies to realize 5G control planes. This has the potential for significant operator cost reductions, by moving to a flexible data centre-like model of operations. POINT has also pushed forward the dialogue in the ICN community, including researchers and practitioners, proposing the underlay model for ICN deployment. Although concrete evidence on impact is still missing due to the longer running timescales of standardization, we strongly believe that POINT has initiated suitable efforts to create such impact.

Another dimension of socio-economic impact is that of adoption of the solution for commercial exploitation, paving the way for offering solutions to market players such as operators and vendors. Through its technology providers Intracom and InterDigital, solutions have been developed and are currently being trialed in pre-commercial 5G settings. As an example, IDE's FLIPS solution (an evolution of the POINT open source platform) was adopted by the H2020 FLAME platform with the plan of conducting 20+ trials in 2018 and 2019. It is also utilized in the 5G UK trial on Smart Tourism in Bristol and Bath, UK, integrated with 5G New Radio technology and orchestrated through ETSI NFV technologies. Beyond the trials conducted in POINT, the POINT solution has also been used for the trial in the H2020 RIFE project in the Spanish community of Taragonna in Catalonia. Reaching a pre-commercial stage (use for commercially offered IPTV and HLS services) at the end of a three year development that started from an idea (running IP over an ICN underlay) is a remarkable achievement, and paves the way for further providing evidence on POINT's socio-economic impact beyond the project duration.