Named Addressing for IP Networks

by Sorell Slaymaker

If we combined the best of snail mail, telephony, and IP addressing, we could come up with a new IP addressing schema that would simplify, secure, and scale all global IP communications.  While IPv6 addresses the scalability issue with IPv4, it does not fix the complexity, insecurity, and guaranteed performance of today’s IP networks, which is why after 20 years, it is still a niche protocol.

Addressing is the backbone of all communication systems such as the physical address for snail mail, the telephone number for phones, and the IP address for data networks.  Each of these addressing schemas has attributes in common, and each has limitations.  By combining the best of all three, we could establish a new IP addressing schema.

A next generation addressing schema would have the following attributes:

  • Named Based – An address is based on names and that can be easily understood. Snail mail addresses are a good example, telephone number and IP addresses are a bad example.  IP networks use DNS to translate numbers to names to help users, but not being natively named based, makes underlying IP networks very complex, especially when Internetworking across many IP networks through firewalls with network address translation boundaries.
  • Location Independent – An address that is free to roam across networks and to different physical locations. Telephone numbers are a good example of an address schema that can be ported between different networks and can roam around the world.  Snail mail and IP networks require change of addresses to do this.
  • Hierarchal – Addresses that are in a hierarchy to ensure optimal network routing performance along with ensuring security policies through infinite segmentation. All of today’s addressing schemas are hierarchal, starting with country, and then region, and then after this, the hierarchal nature between them differs.
  • Signaling – Addressing that first signals the far end for access and authentication for security, routing, and billing purposes. Telephone networks use signaling to seek permission and routing rules to establish a call.  Snail mail and IP networks allow all traffic onto the network and will only block the traffic at the far end.   This generates a lot of unwanted or needed traffic along with enabling Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
  • Multi-Address – Enabling a single device or user to have many different addresses. One can have many different identities at the same physical snail mail address.  Multiple addresses are also at the application layer like email accounts and social media applications.  Different identities and communities drives users to have multiple phone, and network addresses on the same physical device.

The reason IP networks to date have not adopted a new addressing schema is based on how IP networks have evolved.  A disruption in IP networking would require:

  • Embedding Names into Routing – A named addressing schema that routers can use in conjunction with IP addresses. The in conjunction part is important to allow networks to evolve from where they are today and to allow fast path forwarding once an IP session has begun.
  • Creating New Routing Protocol – A routing protocol that can pass named addressing throughout the network so that as network and security policies change, the network can automatically be updated.
  • Building Stateful Session Aware Routers – While everything else in the IP network is statefully session aware, such as firewalls, load balancers, WAN optimization, IDS, …, networks are based on packets and flows. Overlays such as IPsec add additional addressing information to every packet to perform this function, at the expense of a 25% overhead bandwidth tax.
  • Adding Signaling – Using meta-data at the start of a TCP or UDP session to ensure network access and authorization along with optimal routing based on current and past networking performance. The signaling can go across network boundaries to provide end-to-end network security and performance.  Part of signaling is creating a unique session ID for every TCP/UDP session.

The next generation IP addressing schema should use names based on tenants (people, places, or things) and services (applications, media type).  A Qualified Service Name (QSN) can take tenants and services to create the hierarchal naming schema and displace the need for overlay networks such as VxLAN and IPsec.

Named Addresses

Universal Resource Name, Locator, and Identifier (URN, URL, URI) is the current strategy for defining services on IP networks.  The problem is that DNS, which translates names to IP addresses, is not embedded in the network infrastructure of routers, firewalls, and WAN optimization.  Until these two can be combined with the above enhancements from the PSTN and Mail systems, the Internet and private enterprise IP networks will continue to be plagued with security, performance, and complexity challenges that IPv6 will not solve.

Note: The above proposal is different than Named Data Networking.