Enabling a permanent revolution in internet architecture

Title Enabling a permanent revolution in internet architecture
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMcCauley, J., Harchol Y., Panda A., Raghavan B., & Shenker S.
Published inProceedings of the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication SIGCOMM '19

Recent Internet research has been driven by two facts and their contradictory implications: the current Internet architecture is both inherently flawed (so we should explore radically different alternative designs) and deeply entrenched (so we should restrict ourselves to backwards-compatible and therefore incrementally deployable improvements). In this paper, we try to reconcile these two perspectives by proposing a backwards-compatible architectural framework called Trotsky in which one can incrementally deploy radically new designs. We show how this can lead to a permanent revolution in Internet architecture by (i) easing the deployment of new architectures and (ii) allowing multiple coexisting architectures to be used simultaneously by applications. By enabling both architectural evolution and architectural diversity, Trotsky would create a far more extensible Internet whose functionality is not defined by a single narrow waist, but by the union of many coexisting architectures. By being incrementally deployable, Trotsky is not just an interesting but unrealistic clean-slate design, but a step forward that is clearly within our reach.


This work owes a debt to a great many people. First off, we wish to thank our shepherd Marco Canini, our anonymous referees, and three undergraduates at UC Berkeley who helped bring this paper to fruition: Ian Rodney, Brian Kim, and Michael Dong. More fundamentally, this paper is a culmination of almost a decade’s worth of research and reflection. Many other people have shaped the ideas presented here, through either their participation in related joint papers [12, 20, 28, 29] or in-depth discussions. While we take sole credit for any of the bad ideas in this paper, we gratefully acknowledge the following for contributing to whatever good ideas it contains: Hari Balakrishnan, Vjekoslav Brajkovic, Martin Casado, Nick Feamster, Igor Ganichev, Ali Ghodsi, P. Brighten Godfrey, Dirk Hasselbalch, Teemu Koponen, Nick McKeown, Sylvia Ratnasamy, Jennifer Rexford, Ankit Singla, Amin Tootoonchian, James Wilcox, and others. We also wish to acknowledge financial support from Intel, VMware, Ericsson, and Huawei, as well as NSF grant 1817115.

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security