donderdag 12 maart 2009

Web cubed – the network of everything

ICT Results publication

Handsets, laptops, cars and even clothes: they are all part of the ‘network of things’, an incarnation of the future internet, and European researchers are working hard to create that future now.

The future internet promises to be a lot bigger than Web 2.0. Call it Web cubed, if you will, but it promises to usher in pervasive networks that link electronics, clothing, cars and pretty much everything in between.

The upshot will be a network that can accompany and support users in any situation, dynamically adapting not only to the location, but also the contexts like work and leisure.

But there are some big problems facing this rosy future. “The first problem is scale. A network capable of linking everything together will be huge, and it will take some serious engineering to create a framework and platform capable of attaining this sort of scope,” explains Daniele Miorandi of CREATE-NET, coordinator of the BIONETS project.

The future internet will link billions of devices, or at least must be capable of doing so. It makes the most powerful network paradigms of today appear puny.

And that is just the beginning of the challenges. Miorandi cites a series of obstacles of a similar magnitude that stands between the engineers of today and the internet of tomorrow.

Heterogeneity is problem number two. So far, there is no standards body working simultaneously on, for example, clothing and cars in a network. Many of the other major devices of the future internet will be similarly diverse.

Natural-born killer solutions

Complexity is another issue, and is the key theme facing the design and deployment of a system on this scale. Dynamism, the constant creation and destruction of networks and services, will be another feature of the future internet, one that poses a whole new set of problems.

BIONETS is a concerted European effort to overcome these obstacles. It comprises major European players in the telecommunications space, companies like Nokia, Telecom Italia and Sun Microsystems, and it enjoys a budget of nearly €7 million, the lion’s share funded by the European Union.

BIONETS has been studying the problem for the past three years and believes it has come up with an answer to the question: How do you develop solutions for a very large-scale, heterogeneous, dynamic and complex problem like the future internet?
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