Introduction to RINA

The principles behind RINA, were first presented by John Day in his book “Patterns in Network Architecture: A return to Fundamentals” [1]. Since the book was published in 2008, several organizations have stated their interest in further researching RINA, as well as into turning the theory into practice by deploying RINA in the real world. The Pouzin Society (PSOC) [2] was formed in 2009 to coordinate all the international activities around RINA research and development. Some of these activities have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the European Commission [3].

RINA takes as a starting point the basic premise that “networking is inter-process communication (IPC) and only IPC” [4]. Networking provides the means by which processes on separate computer systems communicate, generalizing the model of local inter-process communications. A DIF is an organizing structure, grouping together application processes that provide IPC services and are configured under the same policies. A DIF can be seen as what we generally refer to as a “layer”. According to this view, networking is not a layered set of different functions but rather a single layer of distributed IPC that repeats over different scopes, i.e. providing the same functions/mechanisms but tuned under different policies to operate over different ranges of the performance space (e.g. capacity, delay, loss). Figure 1 provides more details of the RINA architecture. Not only the structural blocks (the DIFs) and interfaces between them are identified, but also the components within them.

Reference model of the RINA architectureFigure 1 Model of the RINA architecture and the components of an IPC Process

The instantiation of a DIF within a system (a computer) is an IPC Process, an application that provides distributed IPC Services. Each IPC Process can have the following components (“can”, because not all IPC Processes will require to have all of them):


Table 1 Short overview of the IPC Process Components


  • [1] John Day. Patterns in Network Architecture: A Return to Fundamentals. Prentice Hall, 2008.
  • [2] The Pouzin Society website [online]. Available at
  • [3] The FP7 IRATI project: Investigating RINA as an Alternative to TCP/IP. Website [online]. Available at
  • [4]    John Day, Ibrahim Matta and Karim Mattar. Networking is IPC: A guiding principle to a better Internet. In Proceedings of the 2008 ACM CoNEXT Conference. ACM, 2008.