Middleboxes No Longer Considered Harmful
Intermediate network elements, such as network address translators (NATs), firewalls, and transparent caches are now commonplace. The usual reaction in the network architecture community to these so-called middleboxes is a combination of scorn (because they violate important architectural principles) and dismay (because these violations make the Internet less flexible). While we acknowledge these concerns, we also recognize that middleboxes have become an Internet fact of life for important reasons. To retain their functions while eliminating their dangerous side-effects, we propose an extension to the Internet architecture, called the Delegation-Oriented Architecture (DOA), that not only allows, but also facilitates, the deployment of middleboxes. DOA involves two relatively modest changes to the current architecture: (a) a set of references that are carried in packets and serve as persistent host identifiers and (b) a way to resolve these references to delegates chosen by the referenced host.