CAIDA’s Annual Report for 2006

June 28th, 2007 by kc claffy

CAIDA’s 2006 Annual Report covers last year’s efforts, summarizing highlights from our research, infrastructure, and outreach activities. Our current research projects, primarily funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), include several measurement-based studies of the Internet’s core infrastructure, with focus on the health and integrity of the global Internet’s topology, routing, addressing, and naming system. Our infrastructure activities, funded by NSF and DHS as well as other government and industry sources, include building a catalog of Internet measurement data sets, contributing to the (DHS-funded) PREDICT repository of datasets to support the (U.S.-based) network research community, and developing and deploying active and passive measurement infrastructure that cost-effectively supports the global Internet research community. We also lead and participate in tool development to support measurement, analysis, indexing, and dissemination of data from operational global Internet infrastructure. Finally, we engage in a variety of outreach activities, including web sites, peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, presentations, blogging, animations, and workshops. CAIDA’s program plan for 2007-2010 will be available in July 2007.

Background and recent history

For just over ten years CAIDA has undertaken various approaches to narrowing a gap that now impedes the field of network research as well as telecommunications policy: a dearth of available empirical data on the public Internet since the infrastructure privatized. We have managed to grow and maintain a research group through increasingly difficult science funding periods, yet over the last decade our ability to get data from the commercial Internet has gradually diminished, as has the quality of science in the field of Internet research.

As an Internet data analysis and research group largely supported with public funding to apply measurement and analysis toward understanding and solving globally relevant Internet engineering problems, we accept a responsibility to seek, analyze, and communicate the salient features of the best available data about the Internet. And of course, we want better answers to the oft-asked question by graduate students: “What Internet research problems are important to work on?’?

In 2003, frustrated with both the lack of access to data and the lack of progress in the Internet research community on a number of important problems in the last ten years, we began a survey to find answers to three questions: (1) What are the top operational and engineering problems in the Internet?; (2) Are we making measurable progress toward solving them?; (3) For problems that we’re not making progress on, what is blocking progress?

These problems span four dimensions of the Internet as emerging critical infrastructure: safety, scability, sustainability, and stewardship. Measurement made the list of problems, no surprise there. At CAIDA we have experienced how difficult measurement of operational infrastructure has been, but the biggest problems with measurement had long been economic (cost of instrumentation and data management), ownership (legal access to data), and trust (privacy and security obstacles to measurement). More surprising was that measurement was not unique in this regard: all persistently unsolved operational problems of the Internet are similarly blocked on issues of economics, ownership, and trust (EOT).

Expansion of research agenda into policy and economics

This lesson meant a change in strategy for CAIDA. We recognize it is no longer appropriate to pursue solutions to the Internet’s problems without tackling the EOT issues. CAIDA’s activities have spanned the four S’s (security, scalability, sustainability, stewardship) for years, but we have begun to re-focus current projects, and pursue new projects, that specifically recognize and openly navigate the economic and policy issues via activities that cross the boundaries between technology and policy. The table below lists examples of how we have expanded our horizons in the last couple of years. Most current projects will continue into 2007.

In addition to we expanded our efforts to
collecting topology for use in modeling and simulation activities, use the same data to provide a current ranking Internet service providers according to sample observations of AS topology coverage ( ASrank).
launching DatCat, for use by researchers to index data sets into a common catalog, reach out to policymakers to show them how such a catalog could support informed policy making.
upgrading our measurement infrastructure and data curation tools to keep pace with technology changes and research community needs, propose a project to provide otherwise non-existent incentive for operational networks to use these tools to contribute network meas urements to the research community.
simulating routing protocols that could scale to billions of nodes, simulate IPv4 address consumption scenarios for ARIN to support immediate policy needs.
providing the largest simultaneous collection of traffic to DNS root servers in support of the research community, do macroscopic surveys of the health of the current DNS, and participate on two of ICANN’s subcommittees (SSAC and RSSAC).

If you have comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info at caida dot org.

Follow this link to CAIDA’s Annual Report for 2006.

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