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The current Internet has been founded on the architectural premise of a simple network service used to interconnect relatively intelligent end systems. While this simplicity allowed it to reach an impressive scale, the predictive manner in which ISP networks are currently planned and configured through external management systems and the uniform treatment of all traffic are hampering its use as a unifying multi-service network. The future Internet will need to be more intelligent and adaptive, optimizing continuously the use of its resources and recovering from transient problems, faults and attacks without any impact on the demanding services and applications running over it. This article describes an architecture that allows intelligence to be introduced within the network to support sophisticated self-management functionality in a coordinated and controllable manner. The presented approach, based on intelligent substrates, can potentially make the Internet more adaptable, agile, sustainable, and dependable given the requirements of emerging services with highly demanding traffic and rapidly changing locations. We discuss how the proposed framework can be applied to three representative emerging scenarios: dynamic traffic engineering (load balancing across multiple paths); energy efficiency in ISP network infrastructures; and cache management in content-centric networks.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2011