The "end-to-end argument" was proposed by network architects Jerome Saltzer, David Reed and David Clark in 1981 as a principle for allocating intelligence within a large scale computer network. It has since become a central principle of the Internet's design. End-to-end [e2e] counsels that "intelligence" in a network should be placed at its ends-in applications-while the network itself should remain as simple as is feasible, given the broad range of applications that the network might support.
In an increasing range of contexts, however, e2e is being questioned. Technologies that undermine e2e are increasingly being deployed; other essential services, such as quality of service, are being developed in ways that are inconsistent with e2e design. These changes are often justified as necessary for the supply of particular network services. But missing from this account is any effort to balance these benefits against costs to the network generally.
The aim of this workshop is to develop a way to speak about the effect of these changes on the environment of the Internet more generally. What are the costs of weakening the commitment to end-to-end? And are those costs outweighed by the benefits of these new services? What principle should guide developers and policy makers in evaluating the trade-offs that these new applications might present?
During the course of the day, technologists, policy makers and lawyers will explore the values implicit in the e2e design, and then attempt to understand the consequences of deviating from e2e in the context of particular network applications-consequences both for innovation on the Internet, as well as for other values that end-to-end might support. The aim of the workshop is not to endorse end-to-end as an overriding design principle, but rather to develop a language within which policy makers can understand the consequences of different architectural designs.
Participants in the workshop will be of three sorts (lawyers, technologists, and policy makers), and will play three different roles (presenter, participant, and audience). The day will begin with an introduction to the end-to-end argument, and a review of its implications in the context of specific network design issues. We will then consider two case studies about particular network implementations. The network design issues will include security, quality of service, and identification. The case studies will consider both cable and wireless broadband Internet service.
Within each topic section, three presenters will be responsible for laying out the issues raised by end-to-end for each topic. Participants and presenters will then discuss the various trade-offs created by adopting or deviating from end-to-end design. By the end of the day, the objective is that this mix of perspectives will suggest a way of discussing the tradeoffs presented by the end-to-end argument in a manner that will be useful to policy makers in these and other contexts.
See details for a breakdown of the day's discussion.