Mirror Magazine


Oxygen networks
(Continued from last week) A word about RON
Any description of the N21 Networks of Oxygen will not be complete without a word about resilient overlay networks from which most of the above proposed technologies draw insight if not inspiration. The MIT RON (Resilient Overlay Networks) project is an effort to improve the strength and accessibility of Internet paths between hosts in use today on wide area Internet routing infrastructure. The goal is to develop techniques that would allow end-hosts and applications to cooperatively gain improved reliability and performance from the Internet. RON nodes examine the condition of the Internet between themselves and the other nodes, and, based upon how the network looks, decide if they should let packets flow directly to other nodes, or if they should send them indirectly via other RON nodes. For instance, a group of cooperating systems on an Oxygen N21 network can mutually provide a more available and better performing routing service than what present day Internet routing can provide.

RON is an architecture that allows a small group of distributed Internet applications to detect and recover from 'path outages' and periods of degraded performance within several seconds, which is a vast improvement over today's wide-area routing protocols that take at least several minutes to recover. A RON is an application-layer modification on top of the existing Internet routing techniques.

The RON nodes monitor the functioning and quality of the Internet paths among themselves, and use this information to decide whether to route packets directly over the Internet or by way of other RON nodes, optimising application-specific routing metrics. The above is but a basic overview of the N21 network technologies as made available by the project authors through the sources acknowledged under 'references'. This article does not attempt to explain the technicalities and the methodologies that will be used in the implementation of these concepts for the simple reason that they are still being researched and are far from being finalised yet.

The world will have its first glimpse of prototype Oxygen systems in 2005 when such technologies enter the public domain as 'common knowledge'. On the other hand, this has more than amply described the vision of the project and what it aims to achieve in terms of improving on the present network technologies and to overcome their limitations.


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