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CacheCash Experiment on EdgeNet

Project Coordinator (EU) :

Sorbonne University

Country of the EU Coordinator :

France

Organisation Type :

Academia

Project participants :

The Principal Interface Timur Friedman is a faculty member at Sorbonne Université, and a member of the LIP6 and LINCS computer science laboratories. His research expertise is in the area of internet measurements.

The principal technical work on the project is carried out by Berat Senel, currently a research engineer at Sorbonne Université, where he is principal developer of EdgeNet.

US Principal Investigators are Justin Cappos, an associate professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering, and Rick McGeer holds a Ph.D. from the University of California (UC) Berkeley

State of US partner :

New York
Washington

Starting date :

NGI related Topic :

Discovery and identification technologies

CacheCash Experiment on EdgeNet


Experiment description

Delivery of large chunks of content, such as video, accounts for a substantial percentage of all internet traffic. Such content, when distributed by large corporations, benefits from CDNs, with nodes hosted by internet service providers (ISPs) providing local service to end users in those ISPs. CacheCash (https://ssl.engineering.nyu.edu/projects#cachecash), the CDN technology under testing by the project, has the potential to change the nature of CDNs by involving the end users themselves directly in serving content through machines that are under their control. Putting users in charge can lead to a wider range of content benefitting from CDNs. CacheCash provides a service in which interested users run caches, and they are incentivised to participate by receiving a crypto-currency (Cachecoin) in exchange for serving content to other users. Both cryptographic and economic analyses demonstrate that the incentives lead CacheCash users to honestly serve content. Analysis has also shown that CacheCash can scale to meet the workload of even the most popular services used today.

CacheCash, the CDN technology, will be tested on EdgeNet to evaluate its performance at a distributed edge network. The measurements would present performance results to see if any additional requirements to be handled before running CacheCash at scale by involving the end-users.
 

The experiment is based on two cutting-edge technologies:

  • CacheCash, the CDN technology that we will test, has the potential to change the nature of CDNs by involving the end-users themselves directly in serving content through machines that are under their control. It provides a service where interested users run caches and are incentivized to participate by receiving a cryptocurrency in exchange for serving content.
  • EdgeNet brings service deployment to the edge cloud, which is the key enabling technology, with customized extensions for Kubernetes. It has been successfully piloted in Fed4FIRE+ open call experiments and is now ready for larger-scale experiments.

    The CacheCash experiment addresses the “Discovery and identification technologies” topic of the call. In testing a new blockchain-based CDN technology, it addresses the topic’s focus on “new methods of search, discovery, and access of large heterogeneous data sources” and “multi-media content”. CacheCash’s focus on end-users addresses the “personalised information retrieval” aspect of the topic, and the evaluation of the efficacy of CacheCash will be in terms of “improved quality of experience”.

    The key enabling technology is the edge cloud technology provided by PlanetLab Europe through EdgeNet. Edge cloud nodes are an integral part of the 5G vision. EdgeNet is based on contemporary de facto industry standard technologies Docker and Kubernetes. The EdgeNet cluster consists of approximately 50 nodes located in North America, South America, and Europe. It has been successfully piloted in Fed4FIRE+ open call experiments and is now ready for larger scale experiments engaging real internet users.

    There are several ways to look at the innovative aspects of this work. First, the innovative technology we deploy has never been tried at a scale even remotely approaching this. It is unknown how the cryptographic techniques for distributing content securely in a way that economically incentivises cheating will work given the latency, non-transitive connectivity, and scalability constraints of the internet. Further, our effort to use real world software distributed to real world users will provide a basis for understanding how such technology will work in practice and at scale.

    To date, most efforts around building distributed data delivery have focused primarily on data storage or on trusted nodes that deliver content. The expected impact of the CacheCash experiment will be to push the boundaries more toward low latency and bandwidth, which are highly valued in the CDN space. The relaxation of trust assumptions in existing platforms also will open up the set of participants. Somewhat counterintuitively, if we are able to demonstrate that high performance can be provided by untrusted nodes, this may enable even CDNs with trusted nodes to have better security as they may alter their architecture to remove trust assumptions without harming performance. By having our experiment be used in a practical deployment by real internet users, we will be able to evaluate the strengths of such approaches, the weaknesses, and to identify research challenges that must be tackled to allow these technologies to become widespread.

    Implementation plan :

    The CasheCash team will use PlanetLab Europe (https://planet-lab.eu/), which is one of the EU Fed4FIRE+ platforms. PlanetLab Europe offers an edge cloud service that is particularly apt for 5G experimentation. Researchers can deploy their experiments on containers that run on servers distributed around the edge of the internet. These servers are completely open to the internet, meaning that researchers can deploy experimental services to real users, and those services will be subject to real internet conditions (latencies, routing changes, cross traffic, etc.) Currently, about 50 such servers in Europe and North America are available.

    PlanetLab Europe is migrating these servers to the new EdgeNet (https://edge-net.org/) technology that Sorbonne University (EU/PI Friedman) is developing in a currently unfunded collaboration with NYU Tandon School (US/PI Cappos) and US Ignite (US/PI McGeer). With EdgeNet, we update PlanetLab Europe to the most recent and widely used containerisation technologies: Docker, and the emerging industry standard for container orchestration, Kubernetes.

    Expected Impacts :

    Sorbonne University’s collaboration with US Ignite and the NYU Tandon School is an outcome of the Global Experimentation for Future Internet (GEFI) workshop, 26-27 October 2017, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It became clear that there was a shared interest in working towards a common successor platform to the existing LXC-based PlanetLab technology, to move to the contemporary de facto industry standards of Docker and Kubernetes. This collaboration has, to this date, not been formalised through joint funding, but it is a very real and enduring collaboration, featuring weekly meetings to advance our joint goals. The US side has in the past benefitted from an NSF EAGER grant to support some of this work, and the EU side has received partial support from French national funding. At times, the development initiative has been taken in the United States and Canada, and at times in France. Our ability to continue together has, however, constantly been in question due to the uncertainties on both sides of the Atlantic regarding ongoing financing. This NGIatlantic.eu funding, it is the first official recognition of our collaboration, enabling the US partners to seek similar funding, and it sets the entire collaboration on a firmer footing for the future. This experiment also increases the appearance of all partners and allows them to exchange information about the NGI Generation Internet and the Tomorrow's Internet programmes to seek further potential collaborations in the future.

    Besides all of these, a successful CacheCash trial on EdgeNet means that CacheCash is capable of involving any Kubernetes-based cluster such as EdgeNet to run caches on its nodes, and EdgeNet can host any CDN solution. This mutual interest will allow both software to be demonstrated to the Inter-Atlantic community. Because both are open source solutions, they can either be adopted by high-tech startups or empower spin-off startups. Moreover, EdgeNet, as a testbed, can attract the EU-US ecosystem of top researchers to run their experiments.                                                   

    Expected Results :

    The project will gather a large, real world data set using cutting edge blockchain data distribution technology. Few studies of this sort have been done, and regardless of the success or failure of the technology, solid evidence that shows the reality today would be helpful. Vast sums of money have been invested in such technologies (e.g., over 250M USD on FileCoin) and understanding their likely real-world properties may help to inform future research and development.

    Prior edge CDN efforts like Akamai’s NetSession or Quilt provided good performance, but largely failed due to a lack of incentives for participants. These steps will help us see if a secure system with good game-theoretic anti-cheating properties and (later) financial incentives can still provide strong performance. By having altruistic use initially, we can experiment and understand future performance issues which may arise.


    As for technology readiness levels of EdgeNet and CacheCash, the team might evaluate EdgeNet at about TRL 3 Experimental Proof of Concept, as there is a functioning instance of EdgeNet that is supporting experiments. CacheCash is closer to TRL 2, a technology concept that has been formulated. The aim is to move CacheCash to TRL 3, as it will involve an experimental proof of concept of the technology being deployed on EdgeNet. The work will also move EdgeNet closer to TRL 4, as using the platform to support an ambitious experiment such as CacheCash brings it further towards being lab-validated.       

    Future Plan :

    The purpose of the experiment will be to trial CacheCash in the real world with real internet users consuming content that is of interest to them. The content will initially be from The Update Framework, or TUF (https://theupdateframework.io/). This technology is used by Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Docker, RedHat, CloudFlare, and many other companies. It is being integrated right now to distribute Python packages on their community repository. We will slowly start by first evaluating the properties of CacheCash with a small subset of TUF users. As our capacity and stability allows, we will add more users and projects to get a more representative data set. Moreover, another exploitation result may be the adoption of CacheCash by a start-up working on the content delivery field.

    Sorbonne University plans to use the EdgeNet software to run PlanetLab Europe. With a successful trial of CacheCash on EdgeNet, one exploitation result will be that PlanetLab Europe's users migrated into EdgeNet, and the migration of PlanetLab Europe's existing infrastructure into the EdgeNet cluster will follow that.

    Expected TRL at experiment completition :

    3

    NGI related Topic :

    Discovery and identification technologies

    Call Reference :

    1

    The 30-months project NGIatlantic.eu will push the Next Generation Internet a step further by providing cascade funding to EU-based researchers and innovators in carrying out Next Generation Internet related experiments in collaboration with US research teams.




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