The Internet, as we know it today, is around 40 years old! Its size, complexity and the role it plays in modern society has far exceeded the expectations of its creators.
Although the original Internet design has successfully enabled the development of several services and applications, novel societal and commercial usages are continuing to push the original Internet architecture to its limits. Unforeseen and extremely popular applications, such as Skype, YouTube, online banking, gaming etc. have anticipated demanding technological and policy challenges in different domains, such as security, mobility, heterogeneity and ad-hoc connections.
The solutions found so far to address these concerns are seen by some observers as ”patches”, which cannot last forever. The inclusion of new functionalities, which had not been anticipated in the original design, is transforming the Internet architecture in a sort of “patchwork”. In every adaptation, the degree of complexity of the resulting architecture increases, preventing the continuous development of the Internet.
Overcoming limitations of today’s Internet in order to make it more efficient and secure will require a radical redesign or change of paradigms in the mid- or long-term. The major goal of Future Internet (FI) research is to propose and evaluate alternative architectures to evolve or replace the current Internet design.
Some disadvantages of the current Internet Architecture:
- The exhaustion of IPv4 network addresses, inhibiting the development of the so-called Internet of Things.
- Limitations of network growth and performance, due to the not scalable size of routing tables in IP routers.
- Need of large investments in palliative measures to contain security problems such as spam, Denial of Service attacks and theft of information.
- Difficulty of combining seamless mobile access with individual privacy.
Future Internet scientists and testbeds
Just like astronomers use telescopes and biologists use microscopes, “Future Internet scientists” use testbeds as research instruments.
Future Internet testbeds are programmable networks devoted for experimentation, connected to the current Internet. The use of testbeds is required to test and validate new network architectures without disturbing the operation of the current Internet.
In other words, testbeds work like a “playground” for researchers (or “experimenters”) to test new models of network architectures and applications.