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Inter-Process Communication - Building Block for the New Internet

The blog on the need for a new internet received quite a bit of (international) attention, and with the assistance of colleague John Day (see paper), we would like to elaborate a bit further on this.

I mentioned RINA, Recursive InterNetwork Architecture, as a good example that can be used to have a look at how such a new internet should look like.

Interestingly the basics are not all that new. Already in the 1970s, but certainly two decades later, there were plenty of telecoms and computer engineers who started to understand that the future telecommunications work would have more to do with computing than with telecoms. However, the vested interests in telecoms had more interest in protecting their very lucrative telephone income. Many of the telecoms initiatives had more to do with designing new infrastructure that, first of all, protected telephony and, secondly, also allowed for data. In the 1990s, companies such as AT&T in the USA and Telstra in Australia warned their governments that 'this internet' was dangerous and could lead to a total meltdown of the telecoms network.

However, there were plenty of people at that time who did see the need for a totally new internet. For example, most of the people involved in the ARPANET saw networking as Inter-Process communication (IPC). OSI was another attempt (by the computer industry) to change the infrastructure from telecom-centric to computer-centric.

The IPC technology and concept is also at the heart of RINA. It will be interesting to see if this time around the engineers can convince the policymakers the need for a new internet for all of the reasons mention in the previous blog:

  • Cyber-terror and cyber-war
  • Cyber-crime
  • Political (government) interference (Russian and Chinese hackers, Prism, Stuxnet, etc)
  • Privacy intrusion (governments, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc)

This time it should be based on a genuine paradigm shift from a telecom view to a distributed processing view.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about IPC

In computer science, inter-process communication or interprocess communication (IPC) refers specifically to the mechanisms an operating system provides to allow processes it manages to share data. Typically, applications can use IPC, categorized as clients and servers, where the client requests data and the server responds to client requests. Many applications are both clients and servers, as commonly seen in distributed computing. Methods for achieving IPC are divided into categories which vary based on software requirements, such as performance and modularity requirements, and system circumstances, such as network bandwidth and latency.

IPC is very important to the design process for microkernels and nanokernels. Microkernels reduce the number of functionalities provided by the kernel. Those functionalities are then obtained by communicating with servers via IPC, increasing drastically the number of IPC compared to a regular monolithic kernel.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication – Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here. Visit Page

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