Cisco Announces Important Steps toward Adoption of Information-Centric Networking

February 23, 2017 - 9 Comments

By Giovanna Carofiglio, Distinguished Engineer

Today we announce three important milestones in the path of deployment of Information-Centric Networking technology in 5G mobile networks.

Let’s start by explaining the concepts behind Information-Centric Networking (ICN). It is an approach to evolve the Internet infrastructure to directly support data-centric and location independent communications by introducing named data as a core Internet principle.

Data access becomes independent from location; enabling a more flexible, secure and efficient communication model. It has the potential to address many of the key problems faced by the Internet today, including content distribution, mobility, security, and scalability.

The technology was developed at PARC, a Xerox company, a decade ago, under the name “Content-Centric Networking” (CCN). PARC has a long tradition of inventing networking technologies, going back to Ethernet, through significant contributions to IPv6 and Internet multicast.

Cisco has been working with PARC and other organizations in industry, government and academia for almost a decade to create and improve CCN and today it announces its acquisition of the CCN platform from PARC.

Cisco’s acquisition of PARC CCN has the objective to foster convergence of various dialects of ICN (CCN and NDN) into a single harmonized version of ICN, promoting wider and faster adoption of ICN-based solutions required to solve future networking needs.

Toward the same end, we announce today the creation of an open-source project within the FD.IO community in the Linux foundation, called Community ICN (CICN). Cisco will be contributing its own ICN software, including the CCN software acquired from PARC, to this open-source project. The open-source initiative is intended to accelerate ICN development by means of community contribution at large and to guarantee continued support.

To accelerate ICN insertion in 5G and facilitate incremental deployment into existing IP infrastructure, we also disclose today Hybrid ICN (hICN), our hybrid ICN IP solution. Hybrid ICN enables the deployment of ICN within IP – rather than as on overlay or replacement of IP. It preserves all features of ICN communication by encoding ICN names into IP addresses.

Key features of hICN are that it supports IPv4 or IPv6 RFC compliant packet formats, and guarantees transparent interconnection with standard IP networking equipment, simplifying the insertion of ICN technology in existing IP infrastructure and enabling coexistence with legacy IP traffic.

Recognized as an emerging innovative technology for 5G, ICN adoption may dramatically simplify next generation network architecture by offering a unified content-aware and access-agnostic network substrate for the integration of heterogeneous networks. Cisco will demonstrate ICN benefits over standard TCP/IP solutions for optimized mobile video delivery next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Demonstrating the goals of 5G are available with deployed technology today.

That’s a quick introduction on why we teamed with PARC to make this important acquisition, and what it means for service providers and OTT content distributors, especially mobile carriers. We’ll have a lot more to say and show at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona. Hope to see you there!

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  1. This is awesome ! I was always wondering when this would happen.

  2. Great article about ICN innovation, simple and clear, clarity and simplicity are highest forms of knowledge….anyway… still remember the early times of CCN, great to see it strong and alive in the upcoming 5G network architecture…the hybrid model surely the way to go…

  3. Good stuff, Giovanna. This opens the door for interesting use-cases with video delivery and IoT as well. Looking forward to contributing.

    • Great post! Being Information Centric, there is interest in STO about applicability to data protection and privacy.

  4. This is great news and excited about the opportunities that it will provide in the research and education community.

  5. Great post Giovanna! Thanks for the insight on what could be game-changing for us.

  6. amazing that you can implement this within IP. I look forward to seeing how it all fits together

  7. The link to the open source project: