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Distributed Data & Service Federation

Evolving network systems require resource and asset sharing beyond connectivity and transit services as in today's networks. For example, in IoT scenarios such as Smart City, data is characterized as the "new oil" for future service and business development. In order to utilize data in new contexts, it needs to be freed from application- or service-provider-specific silos. From a user control and privacy perspective, this cannot be done with some assurance on data usage policies and privacy guarantees. Also, for exchanging data between different business peers, for example between aggregation and application-specific processing and presentation, data ownership, usage rights and authenticity needs to be assured.

Similarly, future mobile network architectures are being design with the idea of layering different service layers, each provided by a unique provider in order to provide adequate facilities for different users and vertical applications of the network. For example, a base connectivity layer would be employed by an MVNO that offers a richer service, or an ICN cache-and-forward infrastructure would be employed by a Mobile-TV service requiring scalable distribution of live and video-on-demand content.

This proposal aims to investigate a decentralized federation infrastructure to support such re-use of data and services at Internet scale. Instead of centralized control of independent network and application silos, we envision a general, Internet-wide infrastructure for creating, managing and storing information about data and service federations. Such federations would be set up dynamically, i.e., on-demand, and secured in a way that allows easy verification.


We think that now is a right time to start thinking about data sharing and service layering in a distributed fashion. Base technologies such as IoT networking and ICN are reaching sufficient maturity levels for deployments. Linked Data initiatives are continuing to emerge, and research efforts such as 5GPPP are taking the next steps towards ad-hoc service create in layered frameworks. Also, policy makers are calling for decentralized architectures, e.g. in EU H2020: "Current centralized platforms for big and social data management consolidate the dominance of existing incumbent actors, stifling innovation and allowing less and less control over the data by citizens. Distributed architectures and decentralized platforms have a huge potential to enable the creation of viable alternatives to current dominant models"(

Challenges, Potential Research Topics

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of challenges and potential research topics:

  • data publishing/distribution in an internet-wide federation, with protection of privacy, version control;
  • subscribing/searching to find the existing of the data, corresponding to publishing/distribution mechanisms;
  • data retrieval with security: the concept of "owner" of data, access control on data objects, based on federated ID management/Authorization/Authorization, privilege management;
  • mechanisms enabling and encouraging data exchange/trade, e.g data anonymizing, data portability, etc. Blockchain may also be relevant here to provide a distributed database for smart contract between non-trusting parties.
  • the ability to accommodate dynamic and evolving behavior, such as mobile code;
  • semantic interoperability at different layers, e.g., as highlighted by
  • information model reflecting the above considerations: data/metadata, owner of the data, etc.

At this point, we'd like to kick-off an inclusive discussion of interested members in the IRTF/IETF community. Specifically, these questions/challenges may have connections to IETF ABFAB WG, IRTF ICNRG, IRTF T2T RG among others.

Next Steps: Side meeting at IETF-96 in Berlin.


  • Date & Time: Tuesday, July 19, 18:50 -- 20:20
  • Room: Tegel

Draft Agenda

  • Diego Lopez: Service Federation in 5G
  • Carsten Bormann: Service Federation in IoT
  • Thomas Scheffler: A Privacy Aware Localization Service for Healthcare Environments
  • Jeffrey He: Architecture Consideration for Data Sharing, and Open Questions
  • Discussion of Next Steps


Please add yourself to this list if you are planning to attend.

  1. Dirk Kutscher
  2. Jeffrey He
  3. Carsten Bormann
  4. Diego Lopez
  5. Mat Ford
  6. Donghoon Lee
  7. Ari Keränen
  8. Jaime Jiménez
  9. Olaf Bergmann
  10. Börje Ohlman
  11. Kostas Pentikousis

Past Activities

We had a side meeting on April 4th, 2016 to discuss about Blockchain, Distributed Internet Frameworks and Service Federation.


Mailing List for follow-up discussions

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