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Versions: 00                                                            
Internet Engineering Task Force                             V Guruprasad
Internet-Draft                  IBM T J Watson Research Center, NY 10598
Expires: May 2001                                          November 2000

                  The Case for an Addressless Internet

Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026. Distribution of this memo is
unlimited. Comments should be sent to the author at prasad@us.ibm.com.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts.
Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material
or to cite them other than as "work in progress".

The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
http://www.ietf.org/ietf/1id-abstracts.txt. The list of Internet-Draft
Shadow Directories can be accessed at http://www.ietf.org/shadow.html.


This Internet-Draft proposes elimination of end-to-end IP addresses
from the Internet, presenting a stronger embodiment of the end-to-end
principle by elevating the end-to-end aspects of connectivity and
routing above the network to an operating system-like framework that
implements virtual network addressing and efficient translation to
switched paths, obviating end-to-end addressing at all levels. The
resulting flexibility would allow, for example, piecewise transition
to IPv6 and full access to the existing Internet for the emerging
wireless services without allocating new addresses.


1  Introduction                                                        4
   1.1  Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   1.2  The fundamental problem  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

INTERNET-DRAFT    The Case for an Addressless Internet    November 2000

   1.3  The fallacy of stateless routing   . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   1.4  The OS parallel  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   1.5  Space-filling translation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   1.6  Protocol stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   1.7  Similarities and differences   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

2  Architecture                                                       11
   2.1  Concept of virtual network addressing  . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       2.1.1  Open growth and deployment   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
        2.1.2  Offline routing and optimisation services . . . . . .  12
       2.1.3  Security by invisibility   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       2.1.4  Unification with telephony   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
       2.1.5  Domain transparency  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
       2.1.6  Mobility   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   2.2  Principles of design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       2.2.1  Reversal of roles  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       2.2.2  Service indirection  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       2.2.3  Route-interpretation of user request   . . . . . . . .  15
       2.2.4  Homogeneised URLs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   2.3  Addressless connectivity   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
       2.3.1  End to end connectivity  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       2.3.2  Comparison with DNS/IP   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       2.3.3  Relation to Web servers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
       2.3.4  Similarity to telephony and email  . . . . . . . . . .  18
       2.3.5  Locality in control plane  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
       2.3.6  Open extensibility   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
       2.3.7  Efficiency of routing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
       2.3.8  Stateless interpretation   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
       2.3.9  Control plane optimisations  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
       2.3.10 ACS shortcuts and forward-encoding   . . . . . . . . .  20
       2.3.11 Intelligence and admission control   . . . . . . . . .  22
       2.3.12 Security and resilience  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
       2.3.13 Prediction database  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
       2.3.14 Optimisation by k-locality   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   2.4  Addressless transport  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
       2.4.1  Two-way path stitching   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
       2.4.2  Delayed signalling and asymmetry   . . . . . . . . . .  27
       2.4.3  Stateless signalling   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
       2.4.4  Inclusion of network state   . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
       2.4.5  QoS attributes and alternative paths   . . . . . . . .  29
       2.4.6  Forward encoding with translation  . . . . . . . . . .  29
       2.4.7  Parallel paths   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30
       2.4.8  Locality of network information  . . . . . . . . . . .  30
       2.4.9  Passive and active aggregation   . . . . . . . . . . .  32
       2.4.10 Transport security   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
   2.5  Universal user interface   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  33
       2.5.1  Distributed parallel support   . . . . . . . . . . . .  33

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 2]

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       2.5.2  Interface route tables   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  33
       2.5.3  IPC and DFS-like abstractions  . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
       2.5.4  Modified API arguments   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
       2.5.5  Sample system calls  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  35

3  Summary                                                            36
   3.1  Features and performance   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36
   3.2  Deployment and coexistence   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36
   3.3  Open extensibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37
   3.4  Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37
   3.5  Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37

4  Intellectual property                                              38

List of Figures

   1    Architecture overview  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   2    Equivalence of routing state   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   3    Space-filling translation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   4    Protocol stack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   5    Control and transport planes   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6    Peephole optimisation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   7    Overlapping shortcuts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   8    Stitching algorithm: request pass  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
   9    Stitching algorithm: acknowledgement pass  . . . . . . . . .  26

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 3]

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1   Introduction

1.1  Overview

The fundamental problem of networking, which had hitherto necessitated
end-to-end (e2e) addressing, lies in the laziness permitted to server
applications, in that they wait at their own hosts, forcing unique
identification and e2e routing all the way from the client end. In
addition, end-to-end (e2e) addressing violates the e2e principle by

   - requiring e2e network knowledge (omniscience) at each node in the
     form of e2e routing tables (Section 1.3);
   - letting network size, instead of volume, affect local traffic by
     imposing larger addresses ("cosmology syndrome", Section 1.3);
   - posing global consistency and conformance constraints that hinder
     not only growth but even the migration to IPv6 (homogeneity);
   - and limiting the network size without allowing the host system
     and application software a chance to do better (bound).

The fundamental problem is solved, as elsewhere described [1], by

   - treating connectivity and e2e routing as application issues,
   - providing a distributed virtual space of services over which
     server and client requests can meet very expeditiously half-way
     by simply interpreting URLs over this space,
   - and efficient translation of the request traversals to virtual
     paths, exploiting the spanning tree property of the virtual space
     and attribute grammars to represent network information.

The framework adapts the paradigms of virtual addressing (Section 1.4)
and program translation (Section 1.5) from host system software to the
network domain, and by moving e2e connectivity and routing out of the
network, takes the e2e principle further and becomes deployable over
and independently of existing networks and the Intranet. Only local
network information is involved in setting up the virtual space and in
the translation, avoiding network omniscience as well as permanently
relaxing the homogeneity constraints, so that even the transport plane
becomes more readily extensible. Virtual paths over addressing network
islands and across switches eliminate e2e addresses and the size bound
altogether, and provide scalability through hierarchical tunnelling
without recreating the "cosmology syndrome".

The translation efficiency is linear in the path length, instead of
depending on network size, as in both IP with CIDR and ATM PNNI with
either source or hop-by-hop routing, but depends on a single spanning

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 4]

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tree. However, the tree is populated by the applications themselves
and is highly extensible, encouraging rapid lateral growth, and the
neighbouring network spanning trees can be readily incorporated into
the translation, so that the growth would be "space filling"
(Section 1.5) and the routing, opportunistically complete and optimal.

As depicted in Fig. 1 below, the framework is proposed not as a
replacement for existing networks or the Internet, but as a separate
control plane with overlaid switches, hosting the virtual space of
services and providing an overlay of virtual paths across both
switched and addressing networks, the latter including the existing
Internet. In particular, the framework allows use of IP to address
both data streams to cellular devices (Section 2.1.4) and exploitation
of the existing Internet by enabled applications that would be
additionally able to transcend the address bound (Section 2.1.5).
Additionally, the framework provides an enhanced degree of security

[This contrasts with the IPv6 proposal, for example, which imposes
changes in host application software, without substantial immediate
benefits to justify the migration effort, and in the infrastructure,
where the improvements are not envisaged to be lasting nor quite as
substantial [2], and is certainly not a formal, permanent solution of
the fundamental problem of networking.]

     /~~~~~~~~~~\___/~~~~~~~~~~~-~~~~~\____/~~~~~~~~~\           ---
    /  *   *             *        **          *  *    \           ^
   (     Virtual address space of services (URLs)   *  )          |
    \ *       *   * *          * *         *      *   /        control
     \___/\____________/\____________/---------\_____/           plane
                              |          |                        |
                              |          |                        |
    ---                     --v--        | routing translation   -x-
  -------  virtual paths  ----v----      v                        |
 ====(+)==========(+)========(+)======(x)======(x)=======(x)=  overlay
      |            |          |        |        |         |       |
      |            |   -- network plane --      |         |       v
 /---------\  /---------\  /-----\  /-----\  /------\  /------\  ---
 | v4 Inet |  | v6 Inet |  | VPN |  | ATM |  | MPLS |  | UMTS |
 \---------/  \---------/  \-----/  \-----/  \------/  \------/

      addressing islands <----           -----> switched

                        Fig. 1: Architecture overview

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 5]

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1.2  The fundamental problem

As stated above in Section 1.1, the fundamental problem is the
traditional application programming interface (API) notion of client
applications having to reach all the way to the application server
hosts. All other issues, including the e2e principle, appear to have
been secondary in this regard. It is the main reason why ATM switches
and interfaces have needed unique addresses, and why MPLS, which does
not envision e2e addresses of its own, needs to rely on IP.

Solving this problem would have entailed touching the API, which had
been viewed as a subject outside the networking domain. However, the
e2e addressing solution is so simplistic that application programs
have had to deal with the network addresses, as shown by the sockets
API [3]. Even if better dressed as IP addresses, network addresses are
real addresses in that they locate physical destinations in the
network, unlike memory addresses, which are routinely virtualised by
host operating systems.

On the other hand, with the network willing to take on this load,
there had been little motivation in the host software space to examine
connectivity and route management roles. Instead, even system software
like distributed file systems (NFS, DFS), interprocess communication
(DIPC) and parallel processing libraries (PVM, MPI) invariably depend
on the "network" for addressing, connectivity and routing.

An analogous operating system layer for the network, providing network
address virtualisation ought to be more application friendly, and this
is ensured in the present framework by the use of URLs and automatic
translation. The API impact is very slight and entirely favourable,
appearing as a extension of the popular Web paradigm (Section 2.5.4).
Security is enhanced by capability for server invisibility and
pre-connect authentication, and by connection-oriented data transport
(Section 3.5).

1.3  The fallacy of stateless routing

IP is traditionally claimed to have "stateless" routing (cf. [4,
Section 2.2.3]), but the claim is in fact fallacious, as it overlooks
a fundamental equivalence between the claimed state and the network
state information embodied in IP router tables.

Specifically, the claim fails to take into account the facts that for
scalability, any routing paradigm would eventually employ hierarchy,
and that the higher levels of the hierarchy would be automatically
expected to be more static and less branched, and it is the latter

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 6]

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that constitute the bulk of the in-network state. The label stack of
MPLS illustrates this correspondence as shown in Fig. 2, with the
pre-CIDR IP address classification scheme, as follows.

        | L3 | L2 | L1 | L0 | payload |              switched packet
           |                \
           |                 \
  | ... | AAAA | BBBB | CCCC | DDDD | ... | payload |   IPv4 packet
        |<--- IPv4 address bits --->|

                     Fig. 2: Equivalence of routing state

The outer labels refers to network topology state, since the virtual
path tunnels are relatively static and form long haul WAN networks,
and are independent of the e2e connections. The higher order bits of
IP addresses similarly represent long haul WAN routes, which are not
only analogous to the path tunnels, but are often literally routed
over those very tunnels. The outer labels and the higher order IP
address bits thus both represent network topology state, invalidating
the "statelessness" claim. Incidentally, IP is by definition less
scalable, because only one layer of IP tunnelling gets to fulfill the
notion of e2e addressing. More significantly, because of CIDR, IP
increasingly suffers from the problem of omniscience at each router
node, which is not the case with virtual paths, particularly under the
present architecture.

IP also suffers from the "cosmological effect", viz that all
traffic, even between neighbouring nodes, is forced to carry more
addressing bits as the network increases, albeit in logarithmic
blocks, whereas in the virtual path hierarchy, the penalty of
additional labels on the link bandwidths and latencies would be
incurred, in the same block-logarithmic fashion, in proportion to
actual traffic volume in the given path and not the size of the

In retrospect, the only fair comparison that can be made is that the
analogous notions of hierarchy have been simply less obvious and
understood in the switched world, and came long after IP routing had
been operating e2e. The related problem that switched paths define
rigid routes seems to have known or obvious solutions, including
statistical load balancing across virtual paths and numerous
techniques for repair, recovery and self-healing.

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 7]

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1.4  The OS parallel

There is a close, obvious equivalence between NAT and bank-switching,
used in embedded systems as a form of virtual memory, but is not a
complete substitute for the per-process virtual address space as
obtained, for example, in a modern Unix-like operating system (OS) for
memory addressing, the principle limitation being that bank-switching
merely remaps portions of the address space, instead of extending it.

Address chunk replacement is not a issue for individual users, but
becomes a problem for services expecting a large number of devices
that would occupy to occupy a sizeable chunk of the address space, as
envisaged for the next generation cellular telephones (Section 2.1.6).

Both the global nature of addresses and the practical bounds on real
addresses are solved problems in OS theory, albeit only in the context
of host memory management, and programming languages and compilers
have evolved alongside. The present architecture in effect proposes a
similar evolution from primitive DNS functionality to full e2e
connectivity, including integration with multipoint connectivity
management hitherto handled by user space libraries like MPI, and the
functionality is appropriately consolidated into an OS-like control
plane conceptually below the applications, but above the network.

1.5  Space-filling translation

Space-filling arises from the combination of the lateral growth
expected in the control plane, by providers and users adding to the
virtual service space, and the translation, as explained below with
the help of Fig. 3.

 \                         to A     Q ||    f       to B     ---
  o A    |        B        <---  .....()....*.....  --->      ^
 / \     o        o                    \\  . .     .          |
    \     \ P    / \                  P \\.   .   .      translation
     >-----o----<        |-->    ========()===========      swath
    /      |     \                       ||     * g           |
           o R                    .    R ()    . .            v
          / \                       .   //\\  .   .          ---
         /   \                        .//  \\.     .
                                      // . .\\
                                     // h *  \\

                       Fig. 3: Space-filling translation

The figure shows a sample region of the virtual space on the left,

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 8]

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which constitutes a spanning tree for reasons that will become clear
in Section 2.3. A neighbourhood of a node P  in the tree is shown
magnified on the right, the dotted links representing a second network
in the same region. Translation is necessary in the present scheme
because e2e connections are efficiently established first in the
virtual space, but the tree would not be generally designed to support
data traffic. In principle, a data network can be laid out alongside,
but that would be restrictive and unoptimal.

For example, the shortest physical path between points A and B in the
figure might not pass through P , and if such a physical path, say
A-*-f-*-B, is or can be made available, the framework should enable
its use, which can be achieved without e2e addressing, as will be
explained in Section 2.4, by translating from the e2e control path
A-*-P -*-B to the desired physical path, say A-*-f-*-B.

It will be shown in Section 2.4.8 that a large but finite "swath"
over the transport network can be swept in the translation process,
which physically follows the e2e control path. The swath together with
the lateral growths expected in both the virtual space and in the
supporting networks, guarantees space-filling,

1.6  Protocol stack

As stated in the overview (Section 1.1), the framework sets up
transport primarily through virtual paths, relegating legacy ATM and
IP networks, including the existing Internet, to the status of
regional media. Consequently, the virtual path termination comprises
the highest network interface layer below the flow control and
application specific protocols, as shown in Fig. 4 below.

           \         application      /
           | HTTP/RTP |      other    |
           |----------|     stacks    |
           | TCP/UDP  |               |
           | virtual path termination |
           | IPv4 | IPv6 | ATM | MPLS |

                           Fig. 4: Protocol stack

V Guruprasad                                                    [Page 9]

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1.7  Similarities and differences

The notion of URLs is now well established by the World Wide Web. The
URLs are homogeneised in the present approach, as there can be no
inherent notion of physical network addresses at the application
level, and look more like a pure filesystem pathname (Section 2.3.1).
More significantly, URLs are used for all e2e connectivity, i.e. for
all networking activity other than network configuration and
administration (Section 3.4), whereas URL usage are currently confined
to a small family of HTTP and related protocols in the Internet.

The Web itself provides numerous virtual registeries of services, but
all such registeries are currently "hosted" or "homed" at real
network locations identified by IP addresses. For example, the
Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) specifications
define format and methodology that would be used by a number of
business-to-business (b2b) portals rather than a single universal
service space like the DNS.

Hierarchical nesting of switched packet labels is specified in MPLS
for the same reason of scalability but MPLS does not address e2e
connectivity and is currently dependent on IP for this purpose. The
present analysis also shows that the MPLS label stack hierarchy in
fact addresses the issue of state more thoroughly than IP with CIDR
(Section 1.3).

While the present architecture was partly inspired by the peer-to-peer
messaging notions in MPI [5], and provides an elegant unification of
MPI messaging with traditional point-to-point network connectivity,
the unification is purely conceptual. There are many different ways
available for distributed applications, as well as a multitude of
issues relating to them; all that has been ensured is capability for
supporting them using a single API.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 10]

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2   Architecture

2.1  Concept of virtual network addressing

In the strict sense, virtual network addressing would mean that
applications (and users) no longer have to deal with network
addresses, which are real in the sense of identifying physical
locations within the network.

It does not mean that network addresses cease to exist altogether, but
rather that their role would be confined to a lower level. It also
does not mean their complete invisibility, because a translation to
real addresses is always necessary. Two constraints are important in
the networking context:

   - only real addresses should be used for data transport, and
   - any form of address directly connecting application processes
     would not be virtual.

Both are trivially obeyed in IP because the same address is used for
both connectivity and transport roles. The second constraint means
that virtual addressing is impossible in the absolute sense, and the
best that can be had is indirection.

It will become clear from Section 2.3, however, that even in the limit
of directness, e2e connectivity can be efficiently obtained, with all
the benefits of virtual addressing, described below, so long as the
connectivity is obtained by en route translation from the application
space to non-e2e real addressing within the network layer.

2.1.1  Open growth and deployment

The most important benefit of virtual addressing, or addresslessness
in the e2e sense, is the elimination of the current constraint of
global address space consistency on the addition of new services and
client devices to the Internet. This should allow the Internet to
advance more rapidly as the administrative infrastructure for address
management would be reduced or eliminated.

Furthermore, the above-network nature of virtual addressing means that
with well-defined interfaces to networking and host software, the
virtual addressing layer can be provided by independent entities. It
would be even possible for these virtualisation providers to share the
networks or host customers.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 11]

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2.1.2  Offline routing and optimisation services

Another provider opportunity lies in the network topology area. Since
e2e knowledge of the network is intentionally not assured in the
translation process, routing cannot be guaranteed in all cases, nor to
be optimal in a global sense.

The Internet itself is a good example of how opportunistic routing can
be effective, and striving for global optimisation for every route
would not be practical, as the problem is NP complete [4, p130]. The
deficiency would be better overcome by designing for efficiency and
allowing independent routing and route optimisation services to set up
or compute routes offline, and feed run-time input to the translation
process. This is just what is being done in the Internet by backbone
and access service providers, so that the virtualisation remains
consistent with current practice and experience. However, the activity
is now partitioned from networking, and without e2e addressing, there
might be room for more providers and better overall service.

2.1.3  Security by invisibility

The absence of e2e addressing presents new opportunity for security,
because it would be possible to provide e2e connectivity to client
applications without revealing the server hosts. For this to work, an
indirection must be built into the virtual-to-real translation away
from the client's network neighbourhood.

It should be possible to adapt secure transaction protocols to virtual
paths, because their security depends on the e2e connection and not on
the available of e2e address.

These issues are discussed in more detail in Section 3.5 with
reference to the present architecture.

2.1.4  Unification with telephony

Two features qualify telephone numbers as virtual addresses: they are
arranged geographically or by service category (e.g. the US "800"
service), rather than by network location, and the service is provided
by virtual circuits. The idea of server and client requests physically
meeting within the virtual space, is also exactly followed, because by
subscribing, a user in effect advertises his or her accessibility in
the telephone system directory. Unification with telephony thus seems
more natural with address virtualisation.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 12]

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This does not mean that Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and related protocols
would be obsoleted, because these are required for a different reason,
viz that it is difficult to support multiple media and data streams
robustly and efficiently in the cellular devices. Rather, as pointed
out in Section 1.1, the address virtualisation would allow the IP
based solutions to be deployed more rapidly, and in a more
appropriate, lasting manner, as explained in Section 2.1.6 below.

2.1.5  Domain transparency

As explained in Section 1.2, the virtualisation necessarily changes
the API, because networking APIs like the BSD sockets were based on
the premise of real network addresses. Though virtual addresses can be
transparently accommodated as yet another address family, the usage
and management of application data and services are clearly affected.

As depicted in the architecture overview, Fig. 1, the impact would be
both one-time and for the better, allowing "enabled" applications to
continue to operate over the existing LANs and the Internet, as well
as connect to other domains that do not share the Internet address
space, including native ATM networks and IP islands.

There is admittedly little difference from existing NAT and virtual
private network (VPN) technologies at the network level with regard to
hosting IP islands, as the virtual path mechanism involves a similar
translation of address labels. The gain lies in supporting very large
scale services, which cannot be done with NAT or VPN, as explained in
Section 1.4.

Additionally, there is substantial gain to be had in the application
space from the simplification of data location and accessibility
management, which would no longer depend on the nuances of individual
network configurations.

Incidentally, the virtualisation also provides opportunity to simplify
and generalise the API to transparently handle native interfaces to
diverse media such as raw Ethernet or MPLS, and to support distributed
parallel applications efficiently and with greater elegance, with
appropriate device driver software in each case (Section 2.5.1).

2.1.6  Mobility

The telephony equivalence means that the SS7 signalling techniques
would be readily applicable to any virtual addressing framework for
ensuring mobility. However, a principal reason for migration to IP in

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 13]

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cellular services is the difficulty of managing multiple streams, of
audio and video along with data, in the handheld devices, along with
access to the existing Internet.

The problem is also being addressed by the emerging MPEG-7 standard,
among other solutions, but there are likely to be cases where IP
routing would remain preferable. This is currently possible using NAT
or VPN, but only for small cellular service operators, as pointed out
in Section 2.1.5. Migration to IPv6 would solve the address problem,
but cannot assure compability with the large body of applications
currently written for IPv4.

Address virtualisation, on the the hand, would be permanent and
indefinitely scalable solution, with a more user-friendly network
interface at the same time.

2.2  Principles of design

The fundamental problem to be addressed by the present architecture,
as explained in Section 1.1, is how to provide e2e connectivity
without requiring the application clients to identify, and optionally
without allowing them to identify, their server hosts. This requires
some form of a virtual address space, and automatic translation to
virtual paths within the network.

2.2.1  Reversal of roles

Given the translation and the e2e principle motivating elevation
towards the host application level, it becomes natural to identify the
virtual addresses with services provided by application servers. More
particularly, e2e addressing has hitherto involved two levels of
indexing, over the network to the host and on the host, to a service
port, i.e. in the form <host-location, service-port>. The service must
come first for virtualisation, essentially reversing the indexing
order to the form <service-id, host-component>, where the latter is of
significance only at the application server end and in distributed
parallel applications, as described in Section 2.5.1.

2.2.2  Service indirection

As pointed out in Section 2.1 and Section 2.1.3, the best that can be
done is an indirection in the virtual space accessible to the host
applications, and the indirection must be built into the translation,

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 14]

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requiring the latter to be distributed. The indirection is readily
achieved by having the application servers first advertise in the
virtual service-id space, and having the client connection requests
meet half-way, as it were, at the points of advertisement. The e2e
connectivity is then conceptually obtained by simple concatenation of
the physical paths taken by the advertisement and connection requests.

2.2.3  Route-interpretation of user request

Additionally, both the e2e connectivity and the translation needs to
be as efficient as IP routing, as explained in Section 2.1.2, whose
efficiency comes from address classification and aggregation, allowing
higher order address bits to be mapped to the next hop. In effect, IP
owes its efficiency to "route interpretation" of the address bits,
and this strategy is ideally adopted for the physical path traversals
by arranging the virtual space hierarchically, which also provides the
convenience of URLs and presents a spanning tree constructed by the
applications themselves, which is opportunistically exploited in the
route interpretation.

2.2.4  Homogeneised URLs

The URLs differ from those used on the World Wide Web in that the
principle of addresslessness prohibits distinction between host
locations and services. They are therefore homogeneised and resemble
pure file system paths, so that any trailing portion of a URL may turn
out to be hosted at a single host, using a modified web server, within
the present framework. The fundamental distinction from current
practice is that the URLs are now used for all connections and not
limited to TCP/HTTP and related protocols.

To summarise, the present architecture is based on the following key

   - virtual addressing in the form of a distributed, hierarchical
     services name space forming a control plane above the network,
   - e2e logical connections over the name space, exploiting its
     spanning tree property, by concatenating the physical routes
     taken by server advertisement and client connection requests,
   - efficient routing for the logical connections by interpretation
     of URLs to the advertisement points,
   - distributed translation from the e2e connections to virtual paths
     within the network,

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 15]

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   - and importantly, locality of addresses and network information in
     both control and network planes.

Additionally, as observed in Section 2.1.2, the locality property
allows independent offline route set up and optimisation services.

2.3  Addressless connectivity

        /-----\                            /-----\
        |  B  | <------------------------> |  F  | <---+
        \-----/                            \-----/     |
           ^   \----\               /-----/   ^        |
           |         \             /          |     /-----\
           |         <<q>>====<<r>>           |     |  G  |<--+
           |           ||      ||             |     \-----/   |
           |           ||      ||             |               |
       /-----\         ||      ||         /-----\         /-----\
       |  A  |         ||      ||         |  E  |         |I    |
       \-----/         ||      ||         \-----/         |  (x)|
         ^    \------<<p>>     ||  /-----/    ^           \-----/
         |             ||     <<s>>           |
         |             ||      ||             |
         |             ||      ||           --------
    -------            ||      ||           |     b|
    |a    |<===========//      \===========>|---+  |
    | +---|                                 | v |  |
    | | u |                                 --------
                                       /--\     addressless
  ||,<====>: data links                |  | : connections server
     ----->: control configuration     \--/
     ----- : signalling links          ----
       (.) : service access point      |  | : application host
     <<.>> : switch                    ----

                     Fig. 5: Control and transport planes

Accordingly, Fig. 5 depicts a sample implementation, comprising a
control plane of Addressless Connection Servers (ACS) geographically
distributed and configured in a hierarchy; the network plane composed
of switches, data links and the host interfaces; and signalling
connections between the ACS nodes and the switches. The ACS nodes are
labelled A through I, the switches, p through s, and the hosts, a
through c. The URLs will be given in the familiar format
//<name>/<name>/.../<service>, where the leading "//" designates the
root of the hierarchy, and each <name> denotes an ACS, except the

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 16]

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last, which represents an advertised service. This notation scheme is
adopted here purely for the purpose of describing the architecture.

2.3.1  End to end connectivity

The illustrative example concerns an application server process u on
host a advertising its service at the homogeneised URL //F/G/I/x, and
an application client process v executing on host b requesting
connection to this service, citing the same URL //F/G/I/x to its
operating on host b. Given the hierarchical relation as shown, it is
straightforward to propagate either request in the control plane, and
to simultaneously construct a reverse URL to the requesting host and
process, until the request message reaches the ACS I. Here, u's
request results in creating a symbolic name x and binding the reverse
URL //B/A/a/u, while v's request results in look up of the name x and
retrieval of the bound reverse URL, //B/A/a/u, so that the client
(v's) request can now be further propagated all the way to the server
process u on host a. It is a trivial matter to cache "downhill
lookups" so that successive client requests reaching the ACS F can be
sent directly over to ACS B, avoiding a two-way traversal to ACS I and
the overhead this would entail at ACS F. Thus, using only a control
plane of name servers and hierarchical URL interpretation, e2e
connectivity has been obtained in this example without requiring e2e
network addresses.

2.3.2  Comparison with DNS/IP

The URLs are addresses of services, not of the providing hosts, and
are not real network addresses in this sense.

However, as remarked in Section 2.1, the URLs are not totally virtual,
as they do locate the ACS hosting the URL, I in the example. If the
reverse URL bound at I, //B/A/a/u, were to be returned to host b, the
e2e connection could be not only established directly from b with
almost the same efficiency, but it could be cached at host b or at the
next ACS, E, the same way as DNS lookup results are currently cached.

The reverse URL //B/A/a/u is a compact version of a hop-by-hop route
to the server host a, making it a real address. There is still some
indirection in the sense that the URL is not a simple name identifying
the final destination, but it would be clearly preferable not to make
the reverse URLs accessible to clients in interest of server security.

The control plane is clearly sufficient for paging or short message
services (SMS), as the message could be carried as payload with the

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 17]

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client request packet. Optionally a reply can be returned as payload
with the server's acknowledgement, following the reverse URL to the
client, constructed during the forward propagation.

This is favourable as it eliminates a separate DNS lookup. The saving
over IP would not be much in web usage from conventional computing
hosts, for instance, where the host DNS cache misses are typically
small [6] but it would be useful for small devices with little cache
of their own.

2.3.3  Relation to Web servers

As mentioned in Section 2.2, any trailing segment of a URL may be
transparently hosted on a single physical host, trading computational
load for network delays. For example, the ACS nodes G and I could be
merged, so that the URL segment /I/x could be mapped to a file x in a
directory I on ACS G.

Existing web server code may thus be combined with existing DNS code
for implementing the ACS.

2.3.4  Similarity to telephony and email

Note that both notions of application processes and file table entries
in Section 2.4.1 are conceptual, as the signalling process could be
identically employed even without conventional computing hosts.

For instance, in voice telephony, both hosts a and b could be
telephones, and the calling process v would then be the human user,
the waiting process u would be the ring circuit on the b, and would
have conceptually advertised its telephonic URL as //1/914/945/2934
say, in the global telephone directory referenced by the existing SS7
signalling procedures.

Email addresses are also functionally equivalent to the service access
points of the present framework, and the three are more closely
associable with the care-of addresses in Mobile-IP than with static
network locations ordinarily signified by IP addresses.

2.3.5  Locality in control plane

The ACS links would be statically set up and only the hierarchical
relations, which are again local (parent-child), are used for the e2e
connection, hence there is no dependence on e2e addressing.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 18]

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The above example is thus fundamentally significant because globally
unique addressing had been hitherto considered axiomatic.

2.3.6  Open extensibility

As in the DNS, the hierarchy allows the control plane to be readily
extended by adding subtrees, the only constraint being that each
subtree must have a unique name under its parent.

2.3.7  Efficiency of routing

In ATM source routing, which reflects the premise of e2e addressing
but not "route interpretation" (see Section 2.2), a search space of
size (b**n) is involved, where b is the mean branching factor
(out-degree) and n is the number of hops to the destination. This
characterises the size of the search database needed at each node for
route computation, and the PNNI specification calls for hierarchical
organisation to keep this manageable. To compare, hop-by-hop routing
incurs a next-hop address space of size b per hop, for a total space
size of only b * n, although it has the possibility of looping. The
same holds for ideal "route interpretation", as in IP before CIDR.

The control plane routing is equally efficient because each step along
the hierarchy corresponds to a branching of the ACS tree, and the
efficiency is owed at least partly to the fact that the latter is a
spanning tree. However, as remarked in Section 1.1, dependence on a
single spanning tree has its shortcomings, as follows:

   - The control route depends on where the service is advertised with
     respect to the prospective client host.

   - The control plane links may not cover the shortest network paths,
     making optimality unlikely.

   - Even when close to the shortest network path for a given client,
     the advertisement may lie on a different branch, as illustrated
     in the above example by binding on ACS I instead of F, E, B or A,
     any of which would have kept the e2e path optimal at least within
     the control plane.

   - The hierarchy forces top level ACS nodes to be involved more
     often. Without caching or offloading, the root node capacity
     would limit the scalability.

The open extensibility and the choice of advertisement location
guarantee that the first two defects can be overcome in any specific

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 19]

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case. Also, there is additional freedom in the translation to virtual
paths, which need to be optimal, whereas connection latency is more
important for the control plane routes (Section 2.1). The remaining
defects are addressed in the following subsections.

2.3.8  Stateless interpretation

The basic algorithm of Section 2.3.1 is of itself stateless, as no
reference needs to be held at any ACS, so the URL interpretation is
the main delay.

It will be shown that statelessness can be maintained even with
optimisations (following subsections) and in the translation to
virtual paths (Section 2.4).

2.3.9  Control plane optimisations

The control plane is meant for the initial e2e connectivity, somewhat
like the DNS, or for one-time short messages for which a virtual path
is not required. This makes efficiency the main concern, to avoid
holding the request state at any ACS for too long (Section 2.1).

Off-branch lookups, like ACS I with respect to host b in the foregoing
example, may be cached at the branch point ACS (F), avoiding two of
three passes through it (to I and back).

The hierarchy itself is conceptual - there is opportunity for building
translation rules at lower level ACS nodes to exploit additional
control path links, or "shortcuts", through the ACS tree. In the
above example, a shortcut link from E to A would be well poised to
avoid going through the roots F and B altogether, provided E can
predict that the reverse URL to be fetched from I will take the
request through A.

This too can be arranged if the reverse URL can be percolated back
towards the client host for some distance, although leaking it to the
client host everytime would burden the control plane unnecessarily and
lose security advantage (Section 2.3.12). A controlled
back-propagation is possible and is described next.

2.3.10  ACS shortcuts and forward-encoding

The effective traversal path in the above example is v-b-E-F-B-A-a-u,
and the strict hierarchical interpretation would miss a shortcut link

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 20]

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E-A, assuming it to be available. If the route were being computed at
a single node, it would be a simple matter to scan the traversal path
string for the pattern "E-*-A" and replace it with "E-A". This may be
represented by the production

                            E * A |-> EA;                            (1)

similar production rules will be applied to describe the translation
to virtual paths. In general, only regular expressions are involved,
so the grammar representation is more for convenience than necessity.

Since the interpretation is distributed and each hop costs network
delay, which can never be eliminated, backtracking is to be avoided or
at least kept out of the critical latency path. One way to achieve
this is by "forward-encoding" as follows:

     When sending the request from E to F, tag the production (1)
     with the request. The pattern would be matched at F, where
     the reverse URL to the server host becomes available. F may
     then back-propagate the request together with reverse URL to
     E for routing through the shortcut.
     E may cache the result to avoid referencing F in future
     requests to the original URL //F/G/I/x.
     F may decide to continue with forward-propagation if the
     cost of back-propagation would be greater. However, caching
     at E can be more effective in cost-reduction in many
     applications, especially when host b has low mobility. Both
     options can be exercised simultaneously by allowing F to
     propagate the request both ways, while annotating the
     back-propagated message with a flag to alert E that the
     message is for caching only.

Several variations are possible in this approach. For example, instead
of encoding the production (1) literally, it would be sufficient to
encode just the depth of ACS E in the tree along with the identity of
ACS A. Even this could be omitted and F requested to back-progate only
anyway; ACS E then gets to make the best choice for the onward route.
Yet another variation is to encode only the depth, and leave it to ACS
F to determine if whether the backtracking depth would be excessive.

Additionally, it might be noticed that the ACS tree is effectively a
cache-hierarchy in reverse, and other cache management techniques from
the DNS experience, as well as from CPU architecture and distributed
shared memory (DSM) fields, may be applied in the present context.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 21]

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2.3.11  Intelligence and admission control

Besides interpreting and caching URLs, it would be obvious that
server-configurable functionality could be added the advertised name
bindings like x in the above example, to be automatically invoked
using the client's reverse URL as argument. Three typical uses would

   - Service zoning and redirection - by returning a different
     server-locating URL depending on the client's location in the ACS
     This could be used, for instance, for customising the service by
     language or geography, or for individual corporate customers,
     e.g. like medical insurance organisations (HMOs in the US).

   - Automatic signalling for setting up peer-to-peer paths in
     symmetric parallel applications.

   - Client authentication - unauthorised clients can be denied access
     to the server host by the ACS node refusing to return or forward
     the referenced server URL. Authentication keys can be stored with
     the bindings for this purpose.
     This differs from current IP security, where the server host is
     always vulnerable. For example, SYN attacks are readily mounted
     on Web servers because the server hosts are visible independently
     of the logical (TCP) connection.
     See also Section 2.3.12.

   - Back-propagation to trusted hosts - which would be useful for
     framework administration.

2.3.12  Security and resilience

It might be thought that since the ACS tree is evidently the sole
means of connectivity, it would be more vulnerable to attack than IP.

Section 2.1.3 and 2.3.11 imply that the vulnerability would be limited
to the local addressing islands hosting the ACS nodes and to the
physical links between them.

Instead, the fact that the ACS is the only means of access also
protects it against attacks from within the framework. Consider, for
example, that a denial-of-service attack on ACS node F by a truant
host b would have to pass through its provider ACS E, which would
likely get choked first, cutting off the attacker. This works equally
well if the attack is mounted from multiple hosts.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 22]

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Denial of service attacks against application servers have become
routine in the Internet, but they are readily prevented in the present
framework by simply keeping the server hosts invisible.

2.3.13  Prediction database

An alternative method, which can be applied in conjunction with the
above, is to build up the prediction database at lower ACS nodes like
E anyway, ahead of time. This can be done by propagating the binding
information from ACS I periodically to the neighbouring ACS.

2.3.14  Optimisation by k-locality

As illustrated by the regular expression reduction rule (1), the above
techniques generally allow "peephole optimisation" of the basic
traversal path v-b-E-F-B-A-a-u. The peephole optimisation however
makes the interpretation at each ACS node computationally more
expensive, by increasing the search space bound from b to (b**k),
where k is the size of the peephole window, as shown in Fig. 6 below.
Multiple and overlapping shortcuts, for example as shown in Fig. 7,
would also be readily handled by peephole optimisation.

                |<--- k --->|
                |           |
        v - b - E - F - B - A - a - u

                        Fig. 6: Peephole optimisation

                |       |
        v - b - E - F - B - A - a - u
                    |       |

                        Fig. 7: Overlapping shortcuts

Advantage lies, of course, in the reduced number of hops, yielding a
total search space size of [n/k](b**k), which reduces to n*b
comparable to IP routing when k = 1, and increases to (b**k),
equivalent to that in the source-routing problem. The present approach
thus yields a continuous range of tradeoffs in route computation
efficiency between hop-by-hop and source routing.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 23]

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It should be noticed that even at k = 1, the approach is superior to
hop-by-hop routing in both IP and ATM, in that looping is inherently
avoided because the ACS is already a spanning tree.

Clearly, the process cannot guarantee global optimality, but latter is
an NP complete problem ([4, p130]) and cannot be solved in practice in
any case. Instead, like greedy algorithms, the present architecture
offers, as previously remarked (Section 2.1, Section 2.3.6,
Section 2.3.7), efficiency coupled with opportunistic freedom that
might more than make up for not attempting global optimisation at all.

2.4  Addressless transport

The logical end-to-end route obtained above may be thought of as an
end-to-end cable in suspension bridge construction, as it allows the
data paths to be set up in the transport plane by broadside-on
signalling to the switches, preserving the O(n) efficiency, given a
rough geographic correspondence between the switches and the ACS as
suggested in Fig. 5. In the example of Section 2.3.1, the client's
request traverses the control path v-b-E-F-B-A-a-u, after deletion of
the common retraced part F-G-I-G-F, which could be avoided in any case
by caching at ACS F. For the distribution of switches given in the
example, a basic one-pass signalling sequence to construct the virtual
path u-a-p-q-r-s-b-v is given in Figs. 8 and 9 below.

2.4.1  Two-way path stitching

The sequence constructs a two-way virtual path simultaneously with the
connection request. This is not the best way (Section 2.4.2), but
serves to illustrate the information flow.

First, when host b forwards the request from process v to ACS E, it
would have already set up a file table entry both as a placeholder for
the response and for the return virtual path on success. This entry
has an index say 5. Host b passes this index along with the request
URL //F/G/I/x and the identity of the requesting process v. The caller
identity is symbolic and included solely for illustrating the reverse
URL construction: the latter is used for paging replies, as already
stated, but only the index (=5) is actually needed for delivery to
process v.

ACS E determines from the forward URL //F/G/I/x that the request needs
to be percolated upwards to ACS F. It also determines, in this basic
signalling scheme, that the data paths must be routed via switch s,
using its network knowledge as described in Section 2.4.4.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 24]

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                  A           B            F           E <---------+
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
1  |     |     |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A           B            F <-------- E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
2  |     |     |     |     |     |      |     |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A           B <--------- F           E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
3  |     |     |     |     |     |      | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A <-------- B            F           E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
4  |     |     |     |     | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

      +<--------- A           B            F           E
      |           |
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
5  |     |     | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                   Fig. 8: Stitching algorithm: request pass

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 25]

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      +---------> A           B            F           E
      |           |
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
6  |u:p.7|4    | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    |     |     |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A --------> B            F           E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
7  |u:p.7|4    | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    | a.4 |8    |     |      |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A           B ---------> F           E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
8  |u:p.7|4    | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    | a.4 |8    | p.8 |9     |     |     |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A           B            F --------> E
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
9  |u:p.7|4    | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:   |5
   | u   |3    | a.4 |8    | p.8 |9     | q.9 |3    |     |     |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

                  A           B            F           E --------->+
                                                       |           |
      a           p           q            r           s           b
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------
10 |u:p.7|4    | q.8 |7    | r.2 |8     | s.1 |2    | b.5 |1    |v:s.2|5
   | u   |3    | a.4 |8    | p.8 |9     | q.9 |3    | r.3 |2    |     |
   -------     -------     -------      -------     -------     -------

               Fig. 9: Stitching algorithm: acknowledgement pass

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 26]

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ACS E accordingly first signals to switch s, telling it the return
destination (host b) and index (5) for setting up the return path
table entry as shown in the figures. Switch s returns the index, say
1, of the new entry, to E, which then passes it along with the request
URL and the growing reverse URL b/v. ACS F determines the onward path
either from its cache or by querying ACS G, obtaining the reverse URL
//B/A/a/u, where the last symbol u similarly refers to a file table
entry on host a where the process u is presumably waiting to accept
the connection.

The sequence continues as shown until host a is reached and process u
accepts, resulting in a new "accepted" file table entry for the new
forward path at index 4, which is now returned together with the OK
response to ACS A, which in turn passes it to switch p along with the
source identity a. These values are used to fill a new forward path
entry at index 8 on switch p, and the index is once again returned to
the signalling ACS, A. The sequence continues until the OK response
reaches host b, where the next switch identity s and index (=2) are
entered into the file table entry initially allocated to complete the
forward path, before handing the response to v.

2.4.2  Delayed signalling and asymmetry

The preceding scheme is not efficient because ACS-switch signalling
delays are incurred even on the forward pass, and the return path
entries in the switches would have to be torn down in the event of
failure, say if process u had gone away when v's request arrived,
which would not only slow the response but would place additional
signalling load on both the switches and the ACS.

The solution is to omit the return path signalling, constructing only
the forward path with the returning acknowledgement, because the
return path can be subsequently set up, if needed, by inband
signalling in the forward path, further reducing the signalling load
on the control plane.

The return path set up request can be deferred and combined with the
first data packet from the client if the application protocol requires
the client to send the first message, as in HTTP, or initiated
immediately on receiving the acknowledgement if the server is expected
to transmit first, say with a login prompt. In many cases, for example
in bulletin services "pushing" news clips to registered clients, the
return path might be avoided altogether.

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2.4.3  Stateless signalling

The two-way algorithm of Section 2.4.1 does not need to impose
signalling state in the control plane as the acknowledgement messages
are routed by the reverse URL constructed in the forward pass and the
return path switch entries for teardown signalling, to be used in the
event of failure, could be carried along with the reverse URL.

With deferred return path signalling (Section 2.4.2), the return path
entries information would also be avoided.

2.4.4  Inclusion of network state

As mentioned in Section 2.3.10, the topology information is readily
represented by production rules of the form

                              bEF  |-> bsF
                              sFB  |-> srB
                              rBA  |-> rqA
                              qAa  |-> qpa

which describe the translations successively applied at ACS E through
A, in effect replacing themselves, as nonterminals, with the switch
names s...p, respectively, which, together with the end hosts a and b,
constitute the terminals for the virtual path. Although shown bundled
together, only the relevant rules need to be available at each ACS.

In the example of Section 2.4.1, the successive transformations are

                     vbEFBAau   |-> (at E) vbsFBAau
                                |-> (at F) vbsrBAau
                                |-> (at B) vbsrqAau
                                |-> (at A) vbsrqpau

As noted in Section 2.3.14, the translation grammar is restricted to
regular expressions, because the nonterminals (ACS) cannot even be
recursively applied, as recursion can only signify loops. In effect,
this formally proves the inherent avoidence of loops claimed in the
present architecture (Section 2.3.14).

Each of the above rules involves both pre- and post-context, which is
needed because the choice of switch must depend on both contexts. This
makes the search space size b**2 at each ACS, where b denotes both
the in- and out-degree mean values, and changes the overall search
space size to [n/k] b**(2k) (see Section 2.3.14).

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The rule contexts are also conceptually useful as placeholders for the
peer linkage data. For example, the post-context (A-a) in the fourth
rule above conceptually represents the linkage data p:7 and a:4 in
steps 5 and 6, of the basic stitching algorithm shown in Figs. 8 and
9, respectively.

2.4.5  QoS attributes and alternative paths

A straightforward extension is to append latency, capacity, bandwidth,
current loading, cost and other possible attributes to each of the
productions, generalising the representation to an attribute grammar.
For example, consider the rules

                   bEF  |-> bsF   [10 MB/s, 90% full]
                 bE * A |-> bspA  [100 MB/s, $1:10/min]

both in ACS E's topology database, meaning that the first production,
which would presumably route through switch r (see Fig. 5), may be
applied if the current request is for a low data rate connection, and
the second production, using the direct, expensive link, is to be
applied if the bandwidth requirement justifies the cost.

The decision however involves predicting the occurrence of ACS A in
the control plane path, as considered in more detail in Section 2.4.6.

As is usual in grammar productions, it is possible to have more than
one equally applicable production, for instance, say there is a
parallel path between s and q going through another switch r', with
very similar properties to the path through r, resulting in the
following rules at ACS F:

                             sF B  |-> srB
                             sF B  |-> sr'B:

Which production gets applied is then up to ACS F. It is also possible
to distribute the path both ways, as discussed in Section 2.4.7.

2.4.6  Forward encoding with translation

The second rule in the set (4), which involves "lookahead" to ACS A,
can be readily applied if the onward translation to URL //B/A/a/u
happens to be found in ACS E's cache. No further interpretive effort
is required there is a shortcut control plane link to ACS B, as
considered in Section 2.3.10, so that ACS F and B are not involved.

If the shortcut is unavailable, howver, there needs to be an
indication to ACS F and B that interpretation is not necessary and the

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request packet should be simply passed onwards to ACS A. This is
already contained in the grammar formalism as the request arriving at
F contains the partially translated path b-s-p-A, in which the
nonterminals F and B do not occur. Further translation is thus
suspended till the request reaches ACS A.

What if there is a "cache-miss" at ACS E ?  Several variations are
possible in this case, as explained for shortcut control routing in
Section 2.3.10, and the same choices would be obtained for the present
translation by tagging the lookhead rule in (4) in place of the
shortcut rule (1). In all cases where ACS E gets to make the final
decision, the information at the time of decision is exactly as if
there were a "cache-hit", and the preceding considerations are then
identically applicable.

2.4.7  Parallel paths

If the network link between a pair of switches already supports
parallel pathways to be load-shared in some way, it would be
transparently supportable in the present scheme.

The scheme however allows parallel paths to be applied even when the
network links do not themselves support parallel paths. For this, each
of the linkages represented by the rule post-contexts (Section 2.4.4)
needs to be expanded into a list, and each step in the stitching
process would then involve multiple switches in parallel. This can be
readily applied to the rule set (5).

Picking both of rules (4) is more tedious but the principle remains
the same. In this case, the connectionrequest must go through the
longest of the control paths and cannot use the shortcut control link.

Although it would allow a one-to-one correspondence between the
connection request and the linkage data, thereby avoiding list
representation, splitting and merging of the request itself is not
preferable because it would require the merging ACS to hold the
component request messages.

2.4.8  Locality of network information

Section 2.4.4 through Section 2.4.7 describe strictly "peephole"
translation, but the rule contexts bridge between adjacent ACS along
the control path.

For example, in the transformation sequence (3), when the switch

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identity r inserted by ACS F must identify switch r as seen from ACS
F, in order that F can meaningfully signal to the switch in steps 3
and 9 in the signalling process (Fig. 8 and 9). When passed over to
the next ACS, B, the terminal symbol continues to represent the same
switch, but as seen from B. In absence of e2e addressing, the two
representations of the switch cannot be the same and a local address
translation is involved, as indicated below by elaborating the second
and third steps in (3):
                     vbs:FBAau   |->  vbs:F:rBAau
                                 |->  vbsr:BAau
                                 |->  vbsr:B:qAau
                                 |->  vbsrq:Aau;
where s:F  signifies that s is currently as seen from F, and s:F:r
signifies that both switches s and r are as seen from F. In the second
step, the request has been handed over to ACS B, with simultaneous
translation of switch symbol r to r:B, and so on.

It is tedious but trivial to show these address translations in all of
the preceding translation rules, but it should be clear that locality
is not compromised by these address translations.

Shortcut transport paths introduce some degree of nonlocality. For
example, the link between switches s and p in Section 2.4.5, rules (4)
requires a switch reference translation going from E:sp to sp:A.
Note that ACS F and B cannot be involved for this translation, the
linkages must be set up with respect to the end points of each
switch-to-switch link, and moreover, the request may be routed over a
control plane shortcut directly to ACS A (Section 2.3.10).

More importantly, the shortcut cannot be represented in the rule bases
of ACS A and E unless they are each directly addressible from the
other in a form that allows comparison with the remaining rules at
these ACS. Regardless of how the nonlocal addressing is implemented,
it should be clear that the requirement does not exceed the k-locality
allowed in the control plane (Section 2.3.14), as long as the
shortcuts are finite.

Locality in the sense of finite neighbourhoods is thus preserved in
the translation process. This allows everywhere-local management of
routing rules representing the network topology and conditions by
offline services, as envisaged in Section 2.1.1 and Section 2.1.2,
further complementing the open extensibility of the control plane
(Section 2.3.6).

The translation would be best built into the translation rules as part
of the network information encoding. As this would be done offline,
the translation would incur only a small "runtime overhead".

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2.4.9  Passive and active aggregation

As explained in Section 1.3, the notion of hierarchical aggregation
introduced in MPLS makes the scalability of virtual paths comparable
to that of IP (Fig. 2), and is readily exploited in the present
architecture for the same purpose.

The locality property allows the aggregation to be set up by offline
services as well, making it transparent to the translation process.
For example, the direct link between switchs s and p, introduced in
Section 2.4.5 rules (4), could be merely an aggregate path over the
same physical route s-r-q-p established by the offline services.

This is a passive form of aggregation support, because the framework
itself does not need to react to network conditions. It should be
noted, though, that the rule base at pairs of ACS, like A and E in the
above example, could be modified by the offline services dynamically
to introduce or delete such aggregate paths depending on the network
conditions, so that passive support is not necessarily static.

Aggregation may be actively supported as well, as illustrated by the
following augmented rule set for ACS E, suggesting that E set up and
utilise an aggregate path depending on the traffic and cost:

              bEF |->  bsF   [10 MB/s, 90% full]
           bE * A |->  bspA  [aggregate, 100 MB/s, $1:10/min]        (7)
           bE * B |->  bsqB  [aggregate, 100 MB/s, $0:70/min]

It is assumed that the aggregate path would be automatically torn down
by ACS E when the traffic falls below the same thresholds.

2.4.10  Transport security

Virtual paths as such provide a higher degree of security than
possible in networks designed to be promiscuous like IP. While there
can be no special privacy within a broadcast medium like twisted-pair
Ethernet, over longer routes, virtual paths tend to be better because
the packets will be delivered only according to the set up
connections. This is difficult to ensure with IP routing, where
packets can, in principle, show up at surprising places. Secondly, if
a switch gets compromised, only the traffic through it would be
exposed, but if an IP router is compromised, more damage could be
inflicted by feeding false information to the routing protocols.

The corresponding vulnerability in the present framework is that of
the routing rulebases. Since the rulebases are defined to be local in
character and content, only traffic routed using the compromised

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rulebase should be affected. This would be considerably larger than
the single switch vulnerability, but still a lot less than the
possible damage from a compromised IP router.

In general, thus, the framework provides some security in addition to
that currently obtained in IP by encryption.

2.5  Universal user interface

The user perspective is considerably simplified by the present
framework, as all network connectivity is uniformly through URLs, and
there is no representation of IP addresses or port numbers.

The application programming perspective is also simplified as all
application connectivity is again through URLs. More importantly, new
capabilities and issues arise as the e2e connectivity and routing
functions are brought closer to the application layer, and the
prototype system calls implementation on AIX4 is presented below to
illustrate the differences.

2.5.1  Distributed parallel support

The simplification holds even for distributed parallel applications
which currently use PVM, MPI or similar libraries, principally because
the URLs are not translated, unlike DNS hostnames, to server host
addresses. The URLs thus lose the point-to-point flavour of IP
addresses, and can be treated instead as as abstract service entities
equally suited for traditional client-server and for symmetric
parallel applications.

Furthermore, as the virtualisation effectively inverts the indexing
order from the form <host-location, service-port> to <service-id,
host-component> (see Section 2.2), at both application servers and in
parallel applications, the handle to the service in principle points
to not one but a list of virtual paths, leading to the clients and
peer processes, respectively. The handles were therefore referred to
as contexts, reflecting this generalisation and to distinguish them
from the BSD sockets, in the prototype code and documentation.

2.5.2  Interface route tables

Since each context handle potentially abstracts a list of virtual path
terminations, their OS data structure may be simultaneously used in a
computer clusters by switch fabric interface coprocessors as routing

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tables. More significantly, they can be aggregated into a form which
is intuitive for user control (Section 2.5.3), so that a similar
abstraction could be of use on cellular devices for handling multiple
streams or conferencing connections.

2.5.3  IPC and DFS-like abstractions

An interesting implication is that a context handle can lead to peer
handles on the same host, and can therefore be used as yet another
inter-process communication (IPC) abstraction, like System V IPC and
Unix sockets.

A related implication is that it becomes important to aggregate the
path lists of contexts obtained from the same service URLs. The
aggregate handles should have lifetimes extending beyond individual
processes that create or use them; coupled with the IPC functionality,
this suggests a System V IPC id-like representation on Unix hosts.

Additionally, most flavours of Unix now support a /proc filesystem
providing a command-line interface to running processes, and an
analogous /cxts filesystem of context handles appears appropriate,
remapping their independent representation as IPC ids. This would
further allow a control or query access to the individual virtual path
terminations in a given context handle to be made visible as files in
the /cxts directory.

In popular distributed file systems like AFS, NFS and DFS, the remote
file trees are mounted onto the host file system under DNS names or IP
addresses. The elimination of host names and addresses would make the
file system more homogeneous, with little to distinguish the network
part from the file system part, as remarked in Section 2.3.3. For
example, "/.../a/b/c/d/x/y/z" could mean the file system pathname
/d/x/y/z under the service location /.../a/b/c, or the pathname /y/z
under /.../a/b/c/d/x.

2.5.4  Modified API arguments

While the uniform use of URLs simplifies the system calls, the
generalisation makes it necessary to allow newer parameters and
argument data structures to cater to the parallel applications. It was
demonstrated in the prototype, however, that a single switch table
interface was still possible to support the newer kind of "driver
modules". In particular, sample client-server and symmetric parallel
datagram interface modules were tested reusing the existing sockets
implementation within the AIX kernel. See also Section 1.6.

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2.5.5  Sample system calls

The AIX prototype implementation adds the following 5 system calls:

typedef int cd_t, fd_t;        /* context and file descriptors */
typedef char* URL_t;
cd_t context (int type, int mode, void* arg);
int cntl (cd_t, int cmd, void* arg);
int cbind (cd_t, URL_t, void* arg);
int cget (URL_t, int type, int mode, void* arg); /* cd_t or fd_t */
fd_t copen (cd_t, int oflags, void* arg);

The first system call context() creates a context handle, replete with
IPC-like Unix permissions and mode properties. The second system call
cntl() is functionally similar to the ioctl(), except that it operates
on context instead of file handles. The third call, cbind (), would be
invoked to advertise the service URL, as described in Section 2.3.1.

The fourth, cget(), returns a descriptor which is directly the file
descriptor if the caller is a traditional client application, but is a
context handle if either the caller is a server or the context belongs
to a parallel computing application. In either of the latter cases,
the approach avoids the need to make cget() calls, which would involve
the ACS tree, multiple times to accept successive connections;
instead, copen() may be invoked on the fetched context handle for this
purpose, thus caching the previously fetched result in a visible way.

The extended POSIX system calls readx()/writex() are used for
messaging in the multipoint (parallel) contexts, using the last
argument as the peer index, following MPI philosophy. The file
descriptors are as usual closed using the existing close() system call
or automatically on process termination, and the cntl() call is used
to destroy the context handles, because it is not always necessary
that they should disappear automatically on last close.

Lastly, the type argument is used to specify the application paradigm,
for example, whether client-server or parallel, and so on, in addition
to the nature of the traffic (i.e. stream, datagram, etc.),
generalising from the socket-type argument used in the BSD socket API.

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3   Summary

3.1  Features and performance

The present framework is the first ever formal solution of the
networking problem as an application-to-application connectivity issue
(Section 1.2), and the generality is reflected in the unification
possible in the user and application programming interfaces at the
client hosts (Section 2.5). The approach fundamentally separates e2e
connectivity from e2e addressing, showing the latter to be unnecessary
at all levels, contrary to the basic assumption in all prior networks.

The framework further provides efficient if opportunistic routing, the
efficiency principally accruing from interpretation of user or
application supplied (virtual) address information in the form of
service URLs (Sections 2.3.1,2.3.7) and translating, where necessary,
from the interpreted control path to virtual paths within the network
plane (Sections 1.5,2).

It has further been shown that the framework is inherently scalable,
unlike IP and other networks like ATM, which have "hardwired"
address space bounds. More particularly, virtual paths are advocated
in the framework because they are by principle infinitely extensible,
and the switching was shown to be logarithmically scalable by
exploiting hierarchical aggregation of paths, as already defined in
the MPLS architecture (Section 1.3). Correspondingly, while the ACS
tree is of course hierarchical, and would allow application services
to be advertised close to the direct paths to the clients
(Section 1.5), shortcut links and DNS-like caching methods were shown
to be possible that would reduce the load on the root nodes and make
the framework as scalable as the DNS (Sections 2.3.9,2.3.10).

Since the framework uniformly depends only on local addressing
(Section 2.3.14) and local network information (Section 2.4.8), it
eliminates the need for network state "omniscience" (Section 1.1)
required at each router in IP (Section 1.3) and near each switch in
ATM PNNI for route computation, allowing unprecedented freedom for
adding to the ACS tree as well as to the network plane.

3.2  Deployment and coexistence

The framework makes it easy for more providers to join in, and opens
new opportunities for providing shortcuts links and routing rule
databases (Sections 2.1.1,2.3.6,2.4.8).

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A major incentive in the framework is that it adds to rather than
replace the existing networks and the Internet, and the addition is
above these networks (Fig. 1,Section 2.1.1), making it possible for
application vendors to deploy their own implementations of the ACS
tree and routing rulebases simultaneously over the Internet.

Further, it is trivial to map even the existing Internet at one or
more points in a given vendor's ACS tree, e.g. mapping
http://www.ibm.com to //us/ny/brewster/oakstview/com/ibm etc.,
providing full Internet access to a large number of "enabled
devices" without allocating IP addresses (Section 2.1.6). The
framework was also shown to be superior to VPN, NAT and related
technologies in this regard (Section 2.1.5).

3.3  Open extensibility

The framework removes the e2e consistency requirement by ensuring that
only local addresses are needed at all levels (Sections 2.3.5,2.4.8),
making it easier to extend in both control and transport planes
(Section 2.1.1). Naturally, compatibility is still required at the
following interfaces: ACS-ACS, ACS-switch, switch-switch, ACS-host and
switch-host, in addition to route computation and rulebase update
(Section 2.4.8).

In principle, the provider of each ACS can dictate the registration
protocol for attaching subtrees, as well as protocols for host
registration, request propagation, caching and rulebase management.

3.4  Administration

Since e2e addresses are abhorred, the only sure way of administrating
the framework is by local access to the ACS and the switches.

This is also the principal vulnerability, but securing the local
access allows far better security than possible in IP (see below).

3.5  Security

The architecture offers better security than IP (Section 2.4.10) and
can protect server hosts from denial-of-service attacks by making them
invisible to the clients (Section 2.1.3), as long as the reverse URLs
are not allowed to back-propagate all the way to the client hosts,
which can be easily ensured by strict authentication of ACS nodes and

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subtrees. The architecture allows additional defence by supporting
in-network authentication before the client connections are granted.

The architecture is also designed to protect itself against denial
attacks, because the nodes closest to the attacker would be choked off
first (Section 2.3.12).

The security aspects appear to be superior, as is expected of a
virtual addressing system (Section 2.1.3). However, they should be
regarded as additional to, and not replacement for, the e2e
encryption-based security already available or being researched in IP.

4   Intellectual property

The IETF is being made aware of an IBM patent application concerning
the present architecture.


This proposal reflects insight and influence from many people over the
past five years, notably (but not limited to) Nick Trio, Steve
Deering, V S Pradeep, Ronald Mraz, Gabriel Silberman, Jonathan
Shapiro, David Safford, Sonja Buchegger, Laurent Frelechoux, Sean
Rooney, Annie Gravey, Udo Krieger, Marc Girouard and A Joseph Hoane.

Author's address

V Guruprasad ("prasad"),
IBM T J Watson Research Center,
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598,

Tel: +1 914 945 2934
Fax: +1 914 945 4077
Email: prasad@us.ibm.com, vgprasad@ieee.org.


[1] V Guruprasad.  Who needs addresses?  In IEEE European Conference on
    Universal Multiservice Networks, Colmar, Oct 2000.

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[2] S King et al.  The case for IPv6: draft-iab-case-for-ipv6-06.txt,

[3] W R Stevens.  UNIX Network Programming.  Prentice-Hall, 1990.

[4] C Huitema.  Routing in the Internet.  Prentice-Hall, 2nd edition,

[5] The Message Passing Interface (MPI) Standard.
    http://www-unix.mcs.anl.gov/mpi/, 1997.

[6] B Krishnamurthy and C E Willis.  Analyzing factors that influence
    end-to-end Web performance.  In 9th International WWW Conference,
    May 2000.

V Guruprasad                                                   [Page 39]