Computer network illustration



Group Leader: Professor Nicholas Race

Computer networking is a core part of the internet of today. It fundamentally underpins the consumption of many services that we take for granted, including social media, video-on-demand and gaming.

We have a diverse range of interests, including developing cutting-edge computer networking technologies, understanding new deployment contexts and ensuring that both of these are done in a safe and secure way. Our work is underpinned by rigorous scientific methodology and evaluation.

The explosion in popularity of these services has led a simultaneous growth in the requirements of the networks that they rely upon. The need to grow in capacity, become more efficient and deliver a better quality of service is greater than ever - computer networking is key to addressing this demand.

Networks are diverse in nature, and the list of technologies keeps growing. The research group has an interest in a number of these, including packet-based, wireless, optical, mobile and sensor network technologies.

Together, these technologies form part of the future internet, and the group's primary aim is to discover how this is built. This includes an all-encompassing architecture and design, and the challenges that are faced in this.

The group’s work also focuses on the need for new flexible and virtualised technologies to support this expansion. This includes understanding how potentially diverse networks and services interact together, and how they can be better combined and managed for the benefit of operators and users alike.


The group participates and hosts a number of diverse testbed facilities, some of which are located solely at Lancaster University, whilst others are federated facilities connected to partners in the UK, the EU and the rest of the world.

These enable the evaluation of technologies and systems in environments similar to those in production networks. Working with technologies in this way is key to creating realistic and genuine evaluations that have real-world implications.

Specific examples include a multi-site testbed used as a tool to understand multi-domain technology convergence in the future Internet. This is complemented with local IPv6 and software-defined networking testbeds that give researchers the flexibility to work and experiment in an unconstrained environment.


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Research Areas

Software-defined Networks and Systems

Our work in this area including applying software-defined networking techniques to new domains, such as content delivery, smart grids and network monitoring. The flexibility and control granted by software-defined networking have been matched with similar advancements in the services and infrastructures that support networks. We are interested in how these can be built in secure and resilient ways, as well as tackling complex challenges, such as fairness and pricing in the face of increasing demand.

Networked Media Systems

We have also focused on understanding and advancing the ways in which media content is stored, cached and delivered using the future internet. This includes work around scalable networks built specifically to meet the enormous demand for content, as well as the technology used by the clients and servers used to distribute this in a way which adapts to fluctuations in network condition.

Distributed Embedded Systems

The Networking group also has interests in Wireless Sensor Networks and Cyber-Physical Systems. Most computer systems surrounding us in our daily life are no longer traditional personal computers but embedded devices. Recently, these embedded devices have become increasingly networked together to form distributed embedded systems. Examples of networked embedded systems are home automation systems, physical intrusion detection systems, smart cities or wireless sensor systems for factory automation. The group’s work looks at communication mechanisms and software used to construct these systems. An important aspect of this work is to deploy and test systems in real-world application scenarios.

Network Management, Security and Resilience

The Networking group’s work in this area includes investigating the management and security of home networks and IoT deployments, as well as large-scale networks such as those operated by Internet service providers. Other, more unusual contexts, include those faced by emergency services crews in highly mobile and changeable environments. This broad scope of deployments has been matched with consideration for the resiliency and privacy in these cases. This includes monitoring networks in near real-time, diagnosing and addressing potential issues, and understanding the complex interactions between different actors and layers of these systems.

We shed light on the advantages of network virtualisation and OpenFlow for large enterprise organisations. This event helped senior network, technology and business leaders to make informed technology planning and investment decisions as they transition towards virtualised networking. It also enabled professionals charged with purchasing, deploying and transforming their network architecture to define and justify the business case for SDN implementation.


Secure Cloud Computing for Critical Infrastructure IT

The SECCRIT project is a multidisciplinary research project with the mission to analyse and evaluate cloud computing technologies with respect to security risks in sensitive environments and to develop methodologies, technologies, and best practices for creating a secure, trustworthy, and high-assurance cloud computing environment for critical infrastructure IT.

Situtation-Aware Information Infrastructure

In this project, we propose to design and develop a generic, resilient and adaptive situation-aware information infrastructure (SAI2) that would predict and confront the broad range of challenges faced by the network.