Active networks is a framework where network elements, primarily routers and switches, are programmable. Programs that are injected into the network are executed by the network elements to achieve higher flexibility and to present new capabilities.
This work describes a novel active network architecture which primarily addresses the management challenges of modern complex networks. Its primary component is an active engine that is attached to any IP router to form an active node. The active engine we designed and implemented executes programs that arrive from the network and monitors and controls the router actions. The design is based on standards (Java, SNMP, ANEP over UDP), and can be easily deployed in todays IP networks.
The contribution of this paper is the introduction of novel architectural features such as: isolation of the active mechanism, the session concept, the ability of active session to control non-active packets, and blind addressing. Implementing these ideas, we built a system that enables the safe execution and rapid deployment of new distributed management applications in the network layer. This system can be gradually integrated in todays IP networks, and allows smooth migration from IP to active networking.