Ambient Networks

Ambient Networks

Alex Galis (University College London, UK) and Bertrand Mathieu (Orange Labs, France)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-250-3.ch002
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This chapter introduces the Ambient Network (AN) which is a network integration solution that aims at fostering dynamic co-operation between the next generation, heterogeneous wireless and wired networks, in order to gather resources within and across networks to provide new services to end users. First, it depicts the main characteristics of AN before describing the Ambient Control Space, which is the space where functional entities managing the networks and the services are active, and the interfaces. Then it focuses on the SATO (Service-aware Adaptive Transport Overlays), which is a service overlay networks deployed on top of the underlying heterogeneous physical networks and tailored according to the services‘ requirements and users‘ context. This chapter aims at giving the readers a good overview of what Ambient networks are since they will be present in the next years everywhere.
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1 Introduction

With the new network technologies and the evolution of devices, end-users can now access any service anywhere, anytime from any device, in any situation. This came possible via the evolution of the wireless networks (3G, WiFi, WiMax, …), the Internet world and the ever increasingly offer of services. We have been entering in the “Always Connected” world. However, if successful and very helpful, there are still major technological bottleneck areas, which justify research and development for new network environments.

3GPP network related bottlenecks: The very success of 3GPP (n.d.) is now creating obstacles to innovation in the networking technology deployed. The size and scope of the public 3GPP networks now make the introduction and deployment of new network technologies and advanced services difficult and very costly. It is thus important to develop solutions that cater for the easy inclusion of the new technologies, while still keeping the impact on the overall network to a minimum level. This holds both for the introduction of specialized access networks under a common core and the inclusion of new functionality in a network’s core domain.

Internet related technological bottlenecks: The Internet has been founded on a basic architectural premise: a simple network service is used as a universal means to interconnect intelligent end-systems. The end-to-end argument has served to maintain this simplicity by pushing complexity into the endpoints, allowing the Internet to reach an impressive scale in terms of inter-connected devices. The current structure of the Internet, though, clearly deviates in many respects from this underlying networking principle, as the Internet is broken into a larger number of interacting network domains leading to placement of functionality inside the network, especially at network domain boundaries. The missing step (Bassi, Denazis, Galis, Fahy, Serrano, & Serrat, 2007) is to finally acknowledge the need for increased complexity in the network and to provide mechanisms harmonizing the interaction across network domain boundaries.

Service related bottlenecks: Future use of Information and Communications Technologies will constitute a new service landscape, in terms of new areas of usage, new ways of service provisioning, new user behaviour patterns as well as new dependencies between services and the everyday activities of humans and devices. The expected growth in services is not well supported by the current generation of networks, which are mainly application or service agnostic. New network support for autonomic and automatic service provisioning is needed to efficiently support this development.

Ambient Network (AN) is a network integration solution (WWI-AN, n.d.; Niebert, Flinck, Hancock, Karl, & Prehofer, 2004; Johnsson, Rembarz, Schieder, Surtees, Ahmed, & Schoo, 2008; Perera, Boreli, Herborn, Georgiades, Eisl, & Hepworth, 2008; Kappler, Poyhonen, Johnsson, & Schmid, 2007) addressing the above bottlenecks and in particular a solution to the current problems of switching from one network to the other in order to keep in contact with the outside world. The solution envisaged is the development of a network software-driven control infrastructure that will run on top of all current or future network physical infrastructures to provide a way for devices to connect to each other, and through each other to the outside world and to provide seamless service provisioning and roaming. As such AN offer a solution to the key networking problem of fostering dynamic co-operation between the next generation, heterogeneous wireless and wired networks, in order to gather resources within and across networks to provide new services to end users.


2 Ambient Network Characteristics

Ambient Networks have been designed having several principles in mind, addressing the needs of future Internet and mobile and wireless systems as well as providing innovative solutions for “fixed-mobile convergence”. The major characteristics of Ambient Networks are as follows:

All-IP Network-Oriented

Networking in Ambient Networks has been defined in order to remove architectural restrictions on who or what can connect to what. Compared to existing inter-networking, ANs assume that all is network and the distinction between end-nodes and networks is no longer visible. Ambient Networks are IP-based mobile networks that can be regarded as a continuation of current Internet design practices.

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