Advanced Network Middleware
To develop a truly advanced Internet, multiple basic architectural issues must be resolved, especially with regard to precisely matching the requirements of advanced applications with resources provided by the network. As networks evolve to support additional applications and services, providing sophisticated capabilities for matching requirements and resources becomes and increasingly complex challenge. These interlinking tasks, processes and services must be accomplished through a mid-level set of integrated processes, capabilities, and technologies. One common term for such mid-level set of technologies is, appropriately, "middleware." Advanced network middleware capabilities have the potential to not only to support many new services, but also to make networks significantly more reliable, adaptive, manageable, scalable, customizable, and intelligent than they are today.
A broad range of "middleware services" is required to provide for a persistent, high performance, reliable, high capacity network that can be rapidly scaled and readily managed. These services include many new types of network processes, systems, and technologies, including those that provide for access control, for advanced reservations of required network resources, and for guarantees that network performance will match the resources requested by the application.
For example, such middleware provides sophisticated capabilities that allow networks to allocate, dynamically and more intelligently (precisely meeting requirement needs) various resources to the multiple applications utilizing them simultaneously. Advanced middleware can dynamically adjust to multiple changes in application resource requirements while network resources are also dynamically changing. These capabilities are especially important for large-scale high performance applications, such as those that are computationally and data intensive and that aggressively use network resources. When such capabilities are integrated into large scale distributed systems, they can be part of a distributed network system that can control additional types of resources, including multi-terabyte storage systems, distributed data repositories, scientific instrumentation, and teraflop computational clusters.
Leading Edge Research
Much of the leading edge research in this area is being conducted by the community involved in developing terascale and petascale systems. Many of these concepts are being developed today through standardization forums such as the Open Grid Forum, in particular its Grid High Performance Networking Research Group. (Ref: Grid Networks: Enabling Grids With Advanced Communication Technology, Eds, F. Travostino, J. Mambretti, G. Karmous-Edwards, Wiley 2006).