In a recent conversation with a colleague we touched upon some of the new networking protocols that are in the works and how they could potentially be used to improve the traditional TCP or UDP based communication protocols for some applications. Interestingly enough, Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) is a protocol that is showing a lot of promise and could potentially be exactly that.

The protocol was designed in the telephony sector after an IETF working group found that TCP had various shortcomings that prevented them from using it as an IP complement to an existing telephone switching network. In 2000 they put together RFC2960 which formed the foundation of what SCTP is today. Today SCTP has been adopted by a number of Operating Systems (Solaris 10 included in base OS, Linux 2.6 with an additional library, BSD included, Windows as a third-party library) and appears to be gaining traction amongst systems developers. C/C++ libraries are obviously widely used but recent discussions in Sun (Oracle) communications show that java is not far behind. SCTP has been included in the latest OpenJDK 7 release and appears to be on track to become part of JDK 7. This Internet Society member briefing nicely outlines the benefits of SCTP over TCP/UDP.

Looking forward to seeing how these protocol improvements can/will translate to simpler and more efficient service-level improvements on the application side.

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