Co-optimisation of overlay applications and underlying networks

An EU FP7 project


Latest news:

ENVISION passed its final review on 29 January 2013, being ranked an excellent project.

Future Networks 11th FP7 Concertation meeting, 27-28 February 2013, Brussels.

Future Internet Assembly, 8-10 May 2013, Dublin.

Future Network and Mobile Summit, 3-5 July 2013, Lisbon, Portugal.

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ENVISION is an FP7 project funded by the European Commission.

The partners are:
- Alcatel-Lucent
- FTR&D/Orange
- Telefonica
- LiveU


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Last update:
March 2013

CINA Interface

Collaboration Interface between Networks and Applications

Today's Internet distributed applications such as video-on-demand, TV, cloud computing and social networks operate in one of two ways: Over-the-top (OTT) where the application provider uses the Internet as a "dumb pipe" without any control or special payment or through a closed and integrated package provided by an ISP. These two approaches have structural problems. In OTT the application has no control over the quality of the data delivery. In the integrated case the ISP has to brand its products and will have a limited number of clients.

CINA,  the Collaboration Interface between Network and Applications creates a new opportunity for over-the-top application providers to request special services from network providers. This can generate new revenue streams for network providers from content distribution and allow for joint collaboration in the optimisation of the network and application logic.

The figure below illustrates how CINA works between different networks and the overlay layer. The interface enables the exchange of information and the invocation of network services offered by ISPs.

CINA interface

Numerous candidate network services could be offered via the interface. Some examples of those under development include the following.

In practice the interface consists of extensible JSON definitions which are then implemented using off-the-shelf HTTP. Below one can see an example for multicast:

POST /multicast HTTP/1.1
Host: custom.cina.example.com
Content-Length: [TODO]
Content-Type:   application/json;
Accept:  application/json;
profile=http://www.envision-project.org/cina/multicaster-schema#AllocateResponse    {
"multicast-address-family" : "ipv4",
"start-time" : {
"min" : "2011-12-19T16:31:57",
"max" : "2011-12-19T18:39:57"
"lease-time" : {
"min" : "2011-12-19T16:59:57",
"max" : "2011-12-19T18:29:57"
"current-time" : "2011-12-19T16:29:57",
"srcs" : [
"src-address" : "",
"src-port" : 1111,
"destination-port" : 1111,
"max-bitrate" : 512
"src-address" : "",
"src-port" : 1111,
"destination-port" : 1111,
"max-bitrate" : 256
"forecasted-user-number" : 555

The CINA interface is being defined by a consortium of leading academic and industrial partners in the ENVISION project and will be open and standardised for anyone to use. It includes security functions to allow for authentication and authorisation and it's of very easy implementation and deployment.

By allowing the network provider a place in the value chain of content distribution, CINA will provide new revenue streams for ISPs (crucial for the investment needed to upgrade Internet access), it will allow applications to deliver more cost-effective quality-of-experience and will allow for joint co-optimization of the network and applications systems. Finally, since it can be deployed incrementally it addresses the frequent "chicken and egg" problem of deploying innovative network services.

Further reading:

D3.1, Initial Specification of the ENVISION Interface, Network Monitoring and Network Optimisation Functions, February 2011 (updated May 2011).

B. Mathieu, S. Ellouze, N. Schwan, D. Griffin, E. Mykoniati, T. Ahmed and O. Ribera Prats, Improving end-to-end QoE via close cooperation between applications and ISPs, IEEE Communications Magazine, special issue on Future Media Internet, March 2011.

N. Schwan, K. Satzke, D. Griffin, B. Mathieu and T. Ahmed, Fostering Cooperation between Overlay Applications and Underlying Networks, Bell Labs Technical Journal, special issue on Application Enablement, Vol. 16, No. 2, September 2011.

D3.2, Refined Specification of the ENVISION Interface, Network Monitoring and Network Optimisation Functions, January 2012, envision_d3.2_final_public.pdf.