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
An updated list of the available evaluation tools will be maintained
at the ICNRG Wiki page: <https://trac.tools.ietf.org/group/irtf/trac/wiki/IcnEvaluationAndTestbeds>
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
(http://named-data.net). NDN is available for deployment on various
operating systems and includes C and Java libraries that can be used
to build applications.
CCN-lite (http://www.ccn-lite.net) 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
PARC is offering CCN source code under various licensing schemes,
please see <http://www.ccnx.org> for details.
The PURSUIT project (http://www.fp7-pursuit.eu) has open-sourced its
Blackhawk publish-subscribe (Pub/Sub) implementation for Linux and
Android; more details are available at
<https://github.com/fp7-pursuit/blackadder>. 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 (http://www.point-h2020.eu) 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 <http://www.netinf.org/open-source>
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.
The Named Data Networking (NDN) project (http://named-data.net) has
developed ndnSIM [ndnSIM] [ndnSIM2]; this is a module that can be
plugged into the ns-3 simulator (https://www.nsnam.org) 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
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
(https://omnetpp.org). 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
<http://icarus-sim.github.io>. 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
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].
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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Tyson, G., Davies, E., Molinaro, A., and S. Eum,
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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.
Kostas Pentikousis (editor)
Trinity College Dublin/Folly Consulting Ltd
19.7 km Markopoulou Avenue
19002 Peania, Athens
Dept. of Electrical and Information Engineering
Politecnico di Bari
Via Orabona 4