Service creation combining programmable networks and open signalling technologies
The deregulation of the telecommunications sector, and the resulting multi-operator competitive marketplace, has reduced the potential profitability of simple voice traffic. To return to the high dividend levels to which shareholders have become accustomed, operators are forced to turn to other sources of income. Future profitability is likely to come from content delivery and associated value added services, the mergers between various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content-creators being championed as the beginning of a new trend within these industries. Faced with a competitive market, network operators are increasingly offering value-added services to differentiate themselves from the competition. At present this is taking the form of concentrating on specialist markets, for example the provision of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or multipeer services. This thesis explores the technology necessary to program the network to provide specialist network layer services to meet the distinct customer requirements. This begins with a critical examination of existing service provisioning approaches from both the “open-signalling” and “active networking” domains. The Alpine framework, A Lightweight Programmable Internet Environment, is presented and discussed. This is a model for providing network programmability to third parties, combining programmable and active network technolody. Current emerging industry trends and standardisation are drawn upon the framework. The Alpine framework is compatible with the programmable interface standardisation activity in the IEEE P.1521.3 IP sub-working group. The resulting implementation of the “Active Router” component can this be viewed as an early interpretation of IEEE P.1520 within a novel active networking context. Finally, an evaluation of the architecture is presented, based around an analysis of the mechanisms for service deployment. Central to the architecture has been the adoption of distributed middleware technologies, the performance of which is measured and discussed with respect to applicability in the active networking domain. The architecture and router design fundamentals are qualified through comparison with a state-of-the-art family of commercial routers.