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4WARD - Architecture and Design for the Future Internet

Addressing Architecture and Design for the Future Internet

The need for structural changes in the Internet is becoming increasingly evident. 4WARD is combining a set of radical architectural approaches building on a strong mobile and wireless background to design inter-operable and complementary families of network architectures.

4WARD is a project in the European 7th Framework Program Call 1 and partly funded by EU. It belongs to Objective ICT-2007-1.1 "Network of the Future" and started January 2008, with a first phase of 2 years.

4WARD’s answer to the Future Internet challenge

Today's network architectures are stifling innovation, restricting it mostly to the application level, while the need for structural change is increasingly evident. The absence of adequate facilities to design, optimize, and interoperate new networks currently forces a convergence to an architecture that is suboptimal for many applications, and that cannot support innovations within itself, the Internet. We have reached a critical point in the impressive development cycle of the Internet that now requires a major change.

4WARD overcomes this impasse through a set of radical architectural approaches built on our strong mobile and wireless background. We improve our ability to design inter-operable and complementary families of network architectures. We enable the co-existence of multiple networks on common platforms through carrier-grade virtualization of networking resources. We enhance the utility of networks by making them self-managing. We increase their robustness and efficiency by leveraging diversity. Finally we improve application support by a new information-centric paradigm in place of the old host-centric approach. These solutions will embrace the full range of technologies, from fibre backbones to wireless and sensor networks.

Work packages

The University of Paderborn ‒ Research Group Computer Networks ‒ is mainly involved in the following two work packages: Network of Information and Forwarding and Multiplexing for Generic Paths

Network of Information

The current Internet is based on the notion of communication between nodes. To get a web page, you first figure out what the name of the node storing the page is, and then retrieve the page from that node. During the transfer, the information is more or less anonymous to intermediate nodes through which the information passes. A consequence of this design is that it becomes unnecessarily hard to design efficient information distribution schemes, or to handle disruptions in connectivity. Most people are however not interested in the nodes – they are interested in the information objects. It does not matter from which node it is retrieved, as long as it is the desired object.
We therefore take a different approach in this work package. Instead of the node-centric paradigm, we adopt an information-centric paradigm. In this paradigm, the communication abstraction presented to applications is based on transfer of application data objects instead of the end-to-end reliable byte-stream used by the majority of applications today. The main work of this work package consists of the design and experimental evaluation of the NetInf architecture.

Forwarding and Multiplexing for Generic Paths

This goal of this work package is to develop an approach and the necessary mechanisms for a generic path abstraction that can incorporate recent advances on techniques to enhance the efficiency of data transport, including use of multiple routes, exploiting the benefit of network coding, or realising diversity gains in a wireless network by cooperative coding. The generic path abstraction at the same time provides an easy-to-use and efficient operation for both user and network, adapting transport procedures to the capabilities of the underlying network. The intended benefits are improved performance and resilience, as well as a stronger semantics such as connecting areas or information objects with each other or making concepts like anycasting transparently available.


  • C. Dannewitz, T. Biermann: "Prototyping a Network of Information", Prototype demonstration at the 34th IEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks (LCN), Zürich, Switzerland, October 2009. 
  • T. Biermann, Z. Polgar, H. Karl: "Cooperation and Coding Framework", in Proc. International Workshop on the Network of the Future (Future-Net), colocated with IEEE ICC, June 2009.
  • T. Biermann, C. Dannewitz, H. Karl: "An Adaptive Resource/Performance Trade-Off for Resolving Complex Queries in P2P Networks", in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC), June 2009.
  • T. Biermann, A. Schwabe, H. Karl: "Work in Progress: Creating Butterflies in the Core -- A Network Coding Extension for MPLS/RSVP-TE", in Proc. IFIP/TC6 Networking 2009, May 2009.
  • T. Biermann, C. Dannewitz, H. Karl: "Extended Results on an Adaptive Ressource/Perfomance Trade-Off for Resolving Complex Queries in P2P Networks", Technical Report TR-RI-08-294, University of Paderborn, Department of Computer Science, October 2008. 
  • C. Dannewitz, H. Karl, and D. Warneke, "Service Platform for Real-World / Internet Integration in Mobile Applications", in Proc. of the 13. Mobilfunktagung, May 2008
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Information about the project:     
Project members:Holger Karl
Thorsten Biermann
Christian Dannewitz
Project website:
Started:January 2008
Finished:June 2010
Contact:Holger Karl

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