Xerox PARC Tapped to Research the Future Internet

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded the famed Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) research institution to look into the creation of a new Internet architecture.

PARC, a Xerox company, recently announced it is on one of four project teams chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to pursue ways to build a more trustworthy and robust Internet.

According to the NSF, the new "Future Internet Architecture" (FIA) program is focused on collaborative, long-range, transformative thinking about new comprehensive network architectures and concepts.

PARC - the sole commercial organization funded within the entire FIA program - will be collaborating with nine universities in a team led by UCLA for "Named-Data-Networking (NDN)" in a grant worth up to $8 million. In addition to PARC and UCLA, the other organizations involved in the NDN project are Colorado State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign, UC Irvine, the University of Memphis, UC San Diego, Washington University, and Yale University.

The NSF describes the NDN project as follows:

""Today's traditional approach to communications is based on a client-server model...where data contained within IP packets are transported along a single path. Today, however, the most predominant use of the Internet is centered on content creation, dissemination, and delivery...The proposed Named Data Networking (NDN) architecture moves the communication paradigm from today's focus on -where,' i.e., addresses, servers, and hosts, to -what,' i.e., the content that users and applications care about. By naming data instead of their location (IP address), NDN transforms data into first-class entities...[and] secures the content and provides essential context for security. This approach allows...[for example] the potential to move content along multiple paths to the destination.""

PARC brings to the program its Content-Centric Networking (CCN) research launched by PARC Research Fellow Van Jacobson four years ago. The CCN work has produced early protocol specifications and open source software [available at], which PARC released to encourage collaborative experimentation by the research community just as NSF is promoting with the FIA program. PARC is contributing the open source software as a base for the NDN project to build upon and extend. The NSF grant addresses the technical challenges in creating NDN, including, as they note: routing scalability, fast forwarding, trust models, network security, content protection and privacy, and a new fundamental communication theory enabling its design.

"Having worked at both large companies and startups, I came to PARC to make Content-Centric Networking a reality, Jacobson said in a statement. "There aren't many organizations that sit at the intersection of government, large enterprises, and universities. Given its unique position in the market, PARC understands the importance of openness and collaboration to achieve success for new network architectures. We are thrilled that NSF is challenging the research community to look beyond incremental changes, and we hope that this NSF support through the FIA program will be a significant catalyst in helping bring about a future foundation of open protocols for content networking."

In addition to working on NDN for the NSF program, PARC has also been working with a number of companies to explore commercial applications of Content-Centric Networking in various domains.

PARC's legacy with networking began with the development of the PARC Universal Protocol (PuP) protocols (contemporaneous with the creation of today's internet protocols) and the invention of Ethernet. This year, PARC is celebrating this invention - along with the GUI, ubiquitous computing, collaborative filtering, and much more - as part of its 40th anniversary. Since being incorporated as an independent subsidiary of Xerox in 2002, PARC has been working with a number of clients around the world to identify opportunities, conduct research, co-develop, and commercialize its offerings across a multitude of industries. Some of its clients include Xerox, Dai Nippon Printing, Sun (Oracle), NEC, Powerset (now part of Microsoft), Fujitsu, SolFocus, Dowa Electronics, PowerAssure, and the US Army.

"Given PARC's track record with pioneering technological change, people continually ask me, 'What's the next big thing?'" said PARC CEO, Mark Bernstein. "Content-Centric Networking is one of two 'big bets' we are investing in for the future. Given our decision to support this research, we are honored to participate, along with our collaborators, in NSF's effort to advance approaches to networking. The world -- and the innovation landscape -- has changed so dramatically and continues to rapidly evolve, especially since the Internet was invented. We need these fundamental changes to enable the continued growth of vital information services."