Minion: an all-terrain packet packhorse to jump-start stalled internet transports

Janardhan Iyengar*; Bryan Ford+; Dishant Ailawadi+; Syed Obaid Amin*; Michael Nowlan+; Nabin Tiwari*; Jeff Wise*
*Franklin and Marshall College; +Yale University

The 8th International Workshop on Protocols for Future, Large-Scale & Diverse Network Transports (PFLDNeT)
November 28-29, 2010, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA


Transport layer evolution is stuck. A proliferation of middleboxes in the Internet has shifted the waist of the hourglass upward from IP to include legacy transports. While popular for many different reasons, middleboxes deviate from the Internet's end-to-end design, creating large deployment “black-holes”—singularities where legacy transports get through, but any new transport technology or protocol fails—severely limiting protocol evolution.

To restore the Internet's openness to innovation at the ends, we propose the minion suite: a protocols suite that uses legacy transports—UDP, TCP, and SSL—to provide a generic unordered datagram service between communicating endpoints, as a substrate atop which more sophisticated transports, such as those supporting partial-ordering, can be built and deployed. These minions are modified forms of the legacy transports where the protocols appear unmodified on the wire, thus making deployability through middleboxes possible. Our minions provide the basis for a much richer set of services that can be offered to the ends, thus recognizing the shifting waist of the Internet hourglass, and creating a powerful new substrate at the new waist.

Paper: PDF • Slides: OpenOffice, PDF

This research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under grants CNS-0916413 and CNS-0916678.