Tincan: User-defined p2p virtual network overlays for ad-hoc collaboration

St Juste, Pierre and Jeong, Kyuho and Eom, Heungsik and Baker, Corey and Figueiredo, Renato
In EAI Endorsed Transactions in Collaborative Computing, 2014

Virtual private networking (VPN) has become an increasingly important component of a collaboration environment because it ensures private, authenticated communication among participants, using existing collaboration tools, where users are distributed across multiple institutions and can be mobile. The majority of current VPN solutions are based on a centralized VPN model, where all IP traffic is tunneled through a VPN gateway. Nonetheless, there are several use case scenarios that require a model where end-to-end VPN links are tunneled upon existing Internet infrastructure in a peer-to-peer (P2P) fashion, removing the bottleneck of a centralized VPN gateway. We propose a novel virtual network — TinCan — based on peer- to-peer private network tunnels. It reuses existing standards and implementations of services for discovery notification (XMPP), reflection (STUN) and relaying (TURN), facilitating configuration. In this approach, trust relationships maintained by centralized (or federated) services are automatically mapped to TinCan links. In one use scenario, TinCan allows unstructured P2P overlays connecting trusted end-user devices — while only requiring VPN software on user devices and leveraging online social network (OSN) infrastructure already widely deployed. This paper describes the architecture and design of TinCan and presents an experimental evaluation of a prototype supporting Windows, Linux, and Android mobile devices. Results quantify the overhead introduced by the network virtualization layer, and the resource requirements imposed on services needed to bootstrap TinCan links.

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