The Internet traffic is still doubling approximately every 18 month; and up to 80% of this traffic is stemming from Peer-to-Peer applications. This traffic is created by overlay network-based applications. The available bandwidth of end-nodes is also increasing. Thus, overlay-based applications will become more and more interesting and diversity of such applications will increase. Therefore, a slow paradigm shift from centralized offered services to services offered by end-nodes is happening. For today's Telecommunication Service Providers (telco) and Internet Service Providers (ISP) the issue arises, how to control and manage network traffic stemming from overlay-based applications.
The use of mechanisms based on incentives for controlling and managing network traffic of overlay applications in the Internet is still in its early stages. Initial results have shown that such mechanisms do have the important property of scalability with respect to the number of players (i.e. providers, consumers, or peers), and lead to a more efficient network operation. In managing the traffic created and routed through their networks today's ISPs, who may be in more general terms service providers on the basis of the IP, employ methodologies suitable for traditional traffic/service profiles. In the near future most network traffic will follow paths that form logical network overlays at the service layer, such as Virtual Private Networks, Network Management System overlays, or distributed collaboration overlays. As the structure of overlays determines the traffic flows in ISP networks, it is highly efficient for an ISP to influence overlay configuration based on information on their structure.
Overlay types have to be managed to
From a user's point of view, SmoothIT will enable new overlay services that can be utilized by any user. Those services may differ with respect to Quality-of-Service (QoS) metrics and will be charged differently. This enables a market of competitive overlay services and their management. Users will benefit from the competition in this market, from the variety of services and service qualities, both made conveniently available to users, and from customized and competitive pricing of the services, giving rise to a high value for money.
From a provider's perspective, SmoothIT will provide for the relevant decentralized control technology and management approaches, backed by thorough theoretical investigations, which will enable new business models to be analyzed and implemented. The application of such scalable economic management mechanisms will enable the ISPs to reduce their service provisioning and maintenance costs, thus, leading towards a highly competitive market advantage. At the same time, since Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and other overlay applications often cover end-users connected to multiple ISPs, appropriate incentives schemes for collaboration among ISPs (which may also be competing ones at the same time) have to be defined.
In summary, the project has the following major objectives to be pursued in support of the overall aim of radically advancing technology:
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