HTTP and DNS in a 5G World


The internet has of course been wildly successful over the last thirty years as more and more functionality has moved online. A large part of this success has been due to two key protocols that have allowed the internet to scale relatively gracefully: HTTP which stands for Hypertext Transmission Protocol, and DNS which stands for Domain Name System. HTTP is the protocol used to send data between a web browser running on a laptop or mobile phone and the web page or application that it is communicating with, which is running on a server in the network. No matter where the web page is located or who develops the web browser, it is guaranteed that they will be able to interoperate because they all use the standardized HTTP protocol to communicate. DNS is equally fundamental as it is the protocol which allows end user devices to translate a given human readable URL such as “www.google.com” to a machine usable IP address that the network can make sense of.

When were these protocols introduced

HTTP and DNS are defined in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards group. The original HTTP standard was published in 1999, and roughly parallels the time when the number of web pages was starting to grow exponentially. The original DNS standard was published even earlier in 1987, as it was required in the pre-web browser days for other applications such as for translating email addresses to IP addresses.

Since these early publication releases, there has typically been a new revision of the HTTP and DNS standards every three or four years to add incremental features such as improved security or robustness. However, in the last few years, the update mode in HTTP and DNS has rapidly changed from rolling out incremental features to more frequent and more major evolutionary steps. So what is in the future for these two critical system technologies?

Reshaping to support the 5G vision

Many technical reasons are driving the changes in HTTP and DNS. However, at the highest level, the main driver is certainly the rapid evolution of the internet architecture to the virtualized model. In the last few years, we have seen the migration of many of the internet’s applications from standalone physical web servers to virtualized platforms located in immense centralized data centers. Looking ahead we can see that 5G networks, which are expected to be deployed in the 2020 timeframe, will take this to the next level creating new requirements for the evolution of HTTP and DNS.

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