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RFC 7945


Information-Centric Networking: Evaluation and Security Considerations

Part 2 of 2, p. 21 to 38
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4.  Evaluation Tools

   Since ICN is an emerging area, the community is in the process of
   developing effective evaluation environments, including releasing
   open-source implementations, simulators, emulators, and testbeds.  To
   date, none of the available evaluation tools can be seen as the one
   and only community reference evaluation tool.  Furthermore, no single
   environment supports all well-known ICN approaches, as we describe
   below, hindering the direct comparison of the results obtained for
   different ICN approaches.  The subsections that follow review the
   currently publicly available ICN implementations, simulators, and
   experimental facilities.

   An updated list of the available evaluation tools will be maintained
   at the ICNRG Wiki page: <

4.1.  Open-Source Implementations

   The Named Data Networking (NDN) project has open-sourced a software
   reference implementation of the architecture and protocol called NDN
   (  NDN is available for deployment on various
   operating systems and includes C and Java libraries that can be used
   to build applications.

   CCN-lite ( is a lightweight implementation of
   the CCN protocol that supports most of the key features of CCNx and
   is interoperable with CCNx.  CCN-lite implements the core CCN logic
   in about 1000 lines of code, so it is ideal for classroom work and
   course projects as well as for quickly experimenting with CCN
   extensions.  For example, Baccelli et al. use CCN-lite on top of the
   RIOT operating system to conduct experiments over an IoT testbed

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   PARC is offering CCN source code under various licensing schemes,
   please see <> for details.

   The PURSUIT project ( has open-sourced its
   Blackhawk publish-subscribe (Pub/Sub) implementation for Linux and
   Android; more details are available at
   <>.  Blackadder uses the
   Click modular router for ease of development.  The code distribution
   features a set of tools, test applications, and scripts.  The POINT
   project ( is currently maintaining

   The 4WARD and SAIL projects have open-sourced software that
   implements different aspects of NetInf, e.g., the NetInf URI format
   and HTTP and UDP convergence layer, using different programming
   languages.  The Java implementation provides a local caching proxy
   and client.  Further, an OpenNetInf prototype is available as well as
   a hybrid host-centric and information-centric network architecture
   called the Global Information Network (GIN), a browser plug-in and
   video-streaming software.  See <>
   for more details.

4.2.  Simulators and Emulators

   Simulators and emulators should be able to capture faithfully all
   features and operations of the respective ICN architecture(s) and any
   limitations should be openly documented.  It is essential that these
   tools and environments come with adequate logging facilities so that
   one can use them for in-depth analysis as well as debugging.
   Additional requirements include the ability to support medium- to
   large-scale experiments, the ability to quickly and correctly set
   various configurations and parameters, as well as to support the
   playback of traffic traces captured on a real testbed or network.
   Obviously, this does not even begin to touch upon the need for strong
   validation of any evaluated implementations.

4.2.1.  ndnSIM

   The Named Data Networking (NDN) project ( has
   developed ndnSIM [ndnSIM] [ndnSIM2]; this is a module that can be
   plugged into the ns-3 simulator ( and supports
   the core features of NDN.  One can use ndnSIM to experiment with
   various NDN applications and services as well as components developed
   for NDN such as routing protocols and caching and forwarding
   strategies, among others.  The code for ns-3 and ndnSIM is openly
   available to the community and can be used as the basis for
   implementing ICN protocols or applications.  For more details, see

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4.2.2.  ccnSIM

   ccnSim [ccnSim] is a CCN-specific simulator that was specially
   designed to handle forwarding of a large number of CCN-chunks
   ccnSim is written in C++ for the OMNeT++ simulation framework
   (  Other CCN-specific simulators include the CCN
   Packet-Level Simulator [CCNPL] and CCN-Joker [Cianci12].  CCN-Joker
   emulates in user space all basic aspects of a CCN node (e.g.,
   handling of Interest and Data packets, cache sizing, replacement
   policies), including both flow and congestion control.  The code is
   open source and is suitable for both emulation-based analyses and
   real experiments.  Finally, Cabral et al. [MiniCCNx] use container-
   based emulation and resource isolation techniques to develop a
   prototyping and emulation tool.

4.2.3.  Icarus Simulator

   The Icarus simulator [ICARUS] focuses on caching in ICN and is
   agnostic with respect to any particular ICN implementation.  The
   simulator is implemented in Python, uses the Fast Network Simulator
   Setup tool [Saino13], and is available at
   <>.  Icarus has several caching strategies
   implemented, including among others ProbCache [Psaras12], node-
   centrality-based caching [Chai12], and hash-route-based caching

   ProbCache [Psaras12] is taking a resource management view on caching
   decisions and approximates the available cache capacity along the
   path from source to destination.  Based on this approximation and in
   order to reduce caching redundancy across the path, it caches content
   probabilistically.  According to [Chai12], the node with the highest
   "betweenness centrality" along the path from source to destination is
   responsible for caching incoming content.  Finally, [HASHROUT]
   calculates the hash function of a content's name and assigns contents
   to caches of a domain according to that.  The hash space is split
   according to the number of caches of the network.  Then, upon
   subsequent requests, and based again on the hash of the name included
   in the request, edge routers redirect requests to the cache assigned
   with the corresponding hash space.  [HASHROUT] is an off-path caching
   strategy; in contrast to [Psaras12] and [Chai12], it requires minimum
   coordination and redirection overhead.  In its latest update, Icarus
   also includes implementation of the "Satisfied Interest Table" (SIT)
   [Sourlas15].  The SIT points in the direction where content has been
   sent recently.  Among other benefits, this enables information
   resilience in case of network fragmentation (i.e., content can still

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   be found in neighbor caches or in users' devices) and inherently
   supports user-assisted caching (i.e., P2P-like content distribution).

   Tortelli et al. [ICNSIMS] provide a comparison of ndnSIM, ccnSim, and

4.3.  Experimental Facilities

   An important consideration in the evaluation of any kind of future
   Internet mechanism lies in the characteristics of that evaluation
   itself.  Central to the assessment of the features provided by a
   novel mechanism is the consideration of how it improves over already
   existing technologies, and by "how much".  With the disruptive nature
   of clean-slate approaches generating new and different technological
   requirements, it is complex to provide meaningful results for a
   network-layer framework, in comparison with what is deployed in the
   current Internet.  Thus, despite the availability of ICN
   implementations and simulators, the need for large-scale environments
   supporting experimental evaluation of novel research is of prime
   importance to the advancement of ICN deployment.

   Different experimental facilities have different characteristics and
   capabilities, e.g., having low cost of use, reproducible
   configuration, easy-to-use tools, and available background traffic,
   and being sharable.

4.3.1.  Open Network Lab (ONL)

   An example of an experimental facility that supports CCN is the Open
   Network Lab [ONL] that currently comprises 18 extensible gigabit
   routers and over a 100 computers representing clients and is freely
   available to the public for running CCN experiments.  Nodes in ONL
   are preloaded with CCNx software.  ONL provides a graphical user
   interface for easy configuration and testbed setup as per the
   experiment requirements, and also serves as a control mechanism,
   allowing access to various control variables and traffic counters.

   Further, it is also possible to run and evaluate CCN over popular
   testbeds [PLANETLAB] [EMULAB] [DETERLAB] [OFELIA] by directly
   running, for example, the CCNx open-source code [Salsano13]
   [Carofiglio13] [Awiphan13] [Bernardini14].  Also, the Network
   Experimentation Programming Interface (NEPI) [NEPI] is a tool
   developed for controlling and managing large-scale network
   experiments.  NEPI can be used to control and manage large-scale CCNx
   experiments, e.g., on PlanetLab [Quereilhac14].

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4.3.2.  POINT Testbed

   The POINT project is maintaining a testbed with 40 machines across
   Europe, North America (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)),
   and Japan (National Institute of Information and Communications
   Technology (NICT)) interconnected in a topology containing one
   Topology Manager and one rendezvous node that handle all
   publish/subscribe and topology formation requests [Parisis13].  All
   machines run Blackadder (see Section 4.1).  New nodes can join, and
   experiments can be run on request.

4.3.3.  CUTEi: Container-Based ICN Testbed

   NICT has also developed a testbed used for ICN experiments [Asaeda14]
   comprising multiple servers located in Asia and other locations.
   Each testbed server (or virtual machine) utilizes a Linux kernel-
   based container (LXC) for node virtualization.  This testbed enables
   users to run applications and protocols for ICN in two
   experimentation modes using two different container designs:

      1.  application-level experimentation using a "common container"

      2.  network-level experimentation using a "user container."

   A common container is shared by all testbed users, and a user
   container is assigned to one testbed user.  A common container has a
   global IP address to connect with other containers or external
   networks, whereas each user container uses a private IP address and a
   user space providing a closed networking environment.  A user can
   login to his/her user containers using SSH with his/her certificate,
   or access them from PCs connected to the Internet using SSH

   This testbed also implements an "on-filesystem cache" to allocate
   caching data on a UNIX filesystem.  The on-filesystem cache system
   accommodates two kinds of caches: "individual cache" and "shared
   cache."  Individual cache is accessible for one dedicated router for
   the individual user, while shared cache is accessible for a set of
   routers in the same group to avoid duplicated caching in the
   neighborhood for cooperative caching.

5.  Security Considerations

   This document does not impact the security of the Internet, but
   Section 3 outlines security and privacy concerns that might affect a
   deployment of a future ICN approach.

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6.  Informative References

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   Konstantinos Katsaros contributed the updated text of Section 2.2
   along with an extensive set of references.

   Priya Mahadevan, Daniel Corujo, and Gareth Tyson contributed to a
   draft version of this document.

   This document has benefited from reviews, pointers to the growing ICN
   literature, suggestions, comments, and proposed text provided by the
   following members of the IRTF Information-Centric Networking Research
   Group (ICNRG), listed in alphabetical order: Marica Amadeo, Hitoshi
   Asaeda, E. Baccelli, Claudia Campolo, Christian Esteve Rothenberg,
   Suyong Eum, Nikos Fotiou, Dorothy Gellert, Luigi Alfredo Grieco,
   Myeong-Wuk Jang, Ren Jing, Will Liu, Antonella Molinaro, Luca
   Muscariello, Ioannis Psaras, Dario Rossi, Stefano Salsano, Damien
   Saucez, Dirk Trossen, Jianping Wang, Yuanzhe Xuan, and Xinwen Zhang.

   The IRSG review was provided by Aaron Falk.

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Authors' Addresses

   Kostas Pentikousis (editor)
   Koernerstr. 7-10
   10785 Berlin


   Borje Ohlman
   Ericsson Research
   S-16480 Stockholm


   Elwyn Davies
   Trinity College Dublin/Folly Consulting Ltd
   Dublin, 2


   Spiros Spirou
   Intracom Telecom
   19.7 km Markopoulou Avenue
   19002 Peania, Athens


   Gennaro Boggia
   Dept. of Electrical and Information Engineering
   Politecnico di Bari
   Via Orabona 4
   70125 Bari