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``Control and Management Systems for Future Multi-Service Networks''
 Contents NCAM  NetOS 

 Introduction NCAM  NetOS 
The complexity of multi-service network control coupled with the need to introduce new services quickly means that monolithic solutions are inappropriate and other solutions must be found. Recent research at Cambridge has shown how a low-level, service-based switch control interface permits a sharp distinction to be made between the physical network and the control layer. Control architectures that allow this type of separation are termed open, as they can be implemented, modified and maintained by parties other than the switch vendor.

Opening the switch's control has several advantages:

  • control functions can be made switch-independent, so the same control architecture implementation can manage different switches in a similar way and the controlling and switching planes can evolve independently;
  • the switch controller and the switch fabric can be physically separated, so the control architecture can be executed in an environment potentially more powerful than that available on the switch;
  • since such a low-level interface can be controlled by any number of different control architectures, network operators are free to implement their own control architectures, either proprietary or standard, in the way best suited to the services they wish to support. In this way network operators can make decisions about the nature and implementation of their control architectures which are more congruent with the types of services that the network they control is expected to support.

Other research, for example TINA, XBind, has also recognised the limitations of the current standards and attempted to rectify them in a similar way. What distinguishes these approaches from ours is that they attempt to replace the current monolithic standard control architecture with another, perhaps more modular, one. Our work shows that much more flexibility is attained by accepting that no single ATM control architecture can ever be optimal for all services and by defining a framework, which we have called the Tempest, in which multiple control architectures, both standard and proprietary, can be supported. There is no longer any need to define one single `best' control architecture. A given fabric can be managed simultaneously by many controllers if the resources of the switch can be partitioned between them. Such a partition is called a switchlet, because to each control architecture the partition resembles a small switch. Although we have applied this approach to ATM, it is a general technique which can be applied to any switching technology with the consequent advantages.

The Network Control and Management Group was set up in Summer 1996. The technology to allow the creation and policing of switchlets is the subject of a patent and is currently being commercialised by Cplane Inc, a Bay Area start up.

 Research Areas NCAM  NetOS 
Current research areas within the group concern:
  • network programmability;
  • virtual private networks;
  • pricing in multi-service networks;
  • operation and maintenance of multi-service networks;
  • building, controlling and managing a wide area multi-service network.

 Members NCAM  NetOS 
Current Members:
photo photo photo photo
Ian Leslie Rebecca Isaacs Andrew Moore Richard Mortier
Professor Research Student Research Student Research Student

Former Members:
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