Software Engineering

SE Radio 573: Varun Singh on Evolution of Internet Protocols : Software Engineering Radio

Varun Singh

In this episode, Varun Singh, Chief Products and Technology Officer at, speaks with host Nikhil Krishna about the 30-year evolution of web protocols. In particular, they explore the impact of protocol ossification, which has supported the Internet’s success but also limits the flexibility of evolving protocol suites such as TCP/IP and UDP by constraining future development. Varun points out how the end-to-end principle emphasizes full flexibility for end hosts, but the TCP implementation in the OS kernel as well as in “middle boxes” such as ISPs contributes to the constraints of ossification by blocking certain types of traffic. Further, the development of new protocols is challenging due to the need for backward compatibility with existing protocols. They discuss Google’s efforts – and the challenges it has faced – in working to move the HTTP protocol forward. The role of standards bodies such as the IETF and collaboration between industry stakeholders is crucial for the evolution of internet protocols, requiring a balance between maintaining backward compatibility and introducing new protocols such as QUIC and HTTP/3 to address existing constraints and improve internet performance and security. indeed, QUIC includes features that seek to actively avoid ossification and encourage evolution.

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