Overcoming the Obstacles to Internet Evolution: Announcing the SEMI Workshop

By: Dan York

Date: November 1, 2014

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One of the challenges faced by technologists interested in developing new and better ways of transferring data over the Internet is the growing number of devices in the network that cause connections to fail when they see something new or unexpected. These so-called middleboxes also make it hard to add simple refinements to existing ways of delivering Internet application data. It’s as if the information superhighway now has automated toll gates at all the major intersections, and if they don’t find your registration plate where they expect to find it, you won’t be allowed through.

In their revealing study of the problem (, Michio Honda and his coauthors found that, “at least 25% of paths interfered with [data] in some way beyond basic firewalling.”

In an effort to promote discussion of ways to detect and characterise the behaviour of these middleboxes, and to identify ways to work around the obstacles they present, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is organising a workshop on Stack Evolution in a Middlebox Internet (SEMI) in January 2015, in Zürich, Switzerland.

Attendance at the workshop is by invitation only. Prospective participants were invited to submit short position papers outlining their views on one or more topics related to the scope of the workshop. To learn more about the purpose and scope of the workshop you can download the call for papers at Position papers will be published on the IAB website ( in due course.

The SEMI workshop is sponsored by the Internet Architecture Board, the Internet Society, and ETH Zürich. Mirja Kühlewind and Brian Trammell of ETH Zürich are cochairs.