In the last decade the business world witnessed the rapid development of Internet and IP networks in private and corporate areas. The wide acceptance of IP originated from its unparalleled ability to provide ubiquitous access and low prices regardless of underlying networking technologies. Moreover, based on the existing best-effort IP transport service, new application services can be offered on a global scale by almost everyone, simply by connecting a new web server to the Internet.
However developing and deploying new network services, i.e. services which operate on the IP layer, through best practice and standardisation is too slow, and cannot match the steps in which requirements of various applications, e.g. multimedia multiparty communication, are growing. Examples of such services are signalling for quality of service (QoS), reliable multicast or Web Proxies/Caches/Switches/Filters. Similar to the intelligent network (IN) architecture in the PSTN world, the current Internet architecture needs to be enhanced in order to allow for a more rapid introduction of such services.
Active Networks have been proposed as a solution for the fast and flexible deployment of new network services. The basic idea of active networks is to enable third parties (end users, operators, and service providers) to inject application-specific services (in the form of code) into the network. Applications are thus able to utilise these services to obtain required network support in terms of, e.g. performance, that is now becoming network-aware. As such, active networks allow dynamic injection of code as a promising way to realise application-specific service logic, or perform dynamic service provision on demand.
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