Expanding home services with advanced gateways

By: 
Jon Whiteaker, Fabian Schneider, Renata Teixeira, Christophe Diot, Augustin Soule, Fabio Picconi, Martin May
Appears in: 
CCR October 2012

The success of over-the-top (OTT) services reflects users' demand for personalization of digital services at home. ISPs propose fulfilling this demand with a cloud delivery model, which would simplify the management of the service portfolio and bring them additional revenue streams. We argue that this approach has many limitations that can be fixed by turning the home gateway into a flexible execution platform. We define requirements for such a "service-hosting gateway" and build a proof of concept prototype using a virtualized Intel Groveland system-on-a-chip platform. We discuss remaining challenges such as service distribution, security and privacy, management, and home integration.

Public Review By: 
David Wetherall

Networked services for backup, photos, music, videos, communications, security, and more are rapidly making inroads in the home. What is the best architecture with which to deliver these services? This paper argues in favor of an architecture that leverages compute and storage at the home gateway, rather than solely in the cloud and on consumer electronics devices in the home. All of the reviewers felt that this was a timely and well-written paper that would engage the research community in a new and quickly evolving area. The main benefit of the paper is the case it makes for home service gateways, along with a report on a prototype home service gateway in which virtualization is used to enable multiple services to co-exist. The main weakness of the paper is that none of the reviewers were convinced by the argument. Each reviewer raised a different but overlapping set of issues. Two reviewers thought that the privacy and performance benefits of home gateways were overstated. Two reviewers thought that the economic cost of adding computing to the home should be factored into the argument. One reviewer thought that the market issues dominated the technical issues of the home gateway in practice, leaving the paper somewhat moot. However, all the reviewers felt that paper advanced the topic, and that publishing it would let readers participate in the debate.