The Internet today is a complex agglomerate of protocols that inherits the grown legacies of decades of patchwork solutions. Network management costs explode. Security problems are more pressing than ever, as organized crime discovers its value. The application and user demands on the Internet are increasing with mobile technologies and media content on the rise, all the while the number of participating nodes is equally boosting. As a direct consequence the recently triggered research on concepts for the future Internet has to cope with a high complexity at network layer and significance in mission critical service infrastructures of society. As part of this effort, the research field of autonomic communication (AC) aims at network self-management and self-protection, following the autonomic computing paradigm invented by IBM. We argue that the collaboration of network nodes provides a valuable way to address the corresponding challenges. After an in-depth analysis of the problem space, we outline in this paper the advantages and challenges of collaboration strategies in deployment. We present the Node Collaboration System (NCS) developed at Fraunhofer FOKUS for the experimental investigation of collaboration strategies and show how the system can be used in a simple setting for network self-protection.
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