Creating Next Generation Networks

iCAIR and its research partners have established multiple research and development projects directed at creating next generation networks. iCAIR undertakes its research and development initiatives in cooperative partnership with other national and international communities and organizations, including universities, national federal labs, standards organizations, advanced networking organizations, and corporate research centers. This research community is accelerating the level and pace of advanced networking research by focusing on key technologies that have the potential to transform digital communications significantly - thereby enabling many powerful new types of capabilities.

iCAIR advances its mission by undertaking research and development projects in four areas, advanced applications, next generation middleware and metasystems, large-scale, high performance communications infrastructure and public policy studies. Research projects in large scale digital communications infrastructure includes those based on leading-edge optical networks and distributed systems based on Grid technology. "Large-scale" here refers to both spatial reach -- global, national, regional, state-wide, and metro scale -- and to overall capacity. These projects include those oriented to basic research and innovation as well as experimentation, testbeds, "proof-of-concept" prototype development, and early implementation of new facilities and services. iCAIR also manages a number of major labs and facilities and showcases innovative technology through demonstrations, at local, national, and international forums.

Increasingly, it has become clear that all sectors of the national economy require an advanced information infrastructure -- an integrated fabric capable of providing high performance, reliable, high capacity, distributed digital services that can be rapidly scaled and readily managed. This type of infrastructure must also allow for related services, such as the reservation of required resources and guarantees that performance will match requirements of applications. Another design goal is to create these technologies so that they are not only powerful but transparent, ubiquitous, easy-to-access, and easy-to-use. Such requirements provide one reference context for new information technology design and development.

However, another reference context consists of designing technology to meet the requirements of a number of emerging resource intensive applications. With its research partners, iCAIR is developing technology to support advanced applications that are substantially more powerful than those currently implemented. Many of these applications are particularly compute-cycle, data, and bandwidth intensive. Some require the management of multiple terabytes and even petabytes of information. Currently, as has been the case for many years, a key driver for creating new information technology is e- science, which requires applications that are large-scale, highly distributed, and extremely resource intensive. Many e-science applications require global, high performance capabilities, e.g., allowing for managing enormous, highly distributed, volumes of information. In addition to power, many require sophisticated processes, for example, fine-grained control of remote specialized instrumentation.

A number of researchers are addressing important basic problems in new infrastructure development related to large scale e-science. Among the most promising initiatives are those that have been established by the Grid and Globus communities of researchers and developers. These initiatives are creating fundamentally new types of infrastructure that "virtualizes" services, infrastructure, and other resources. These innovative capabilities allow for the dynamic and virtualization integration of organizations, communities, information, instruments and other resources.

These capabilities are also of value to organizations beyond the e-science community. Such new infrastructure designs are also required to enable many new capabilities for a broad range of social activities, including, as noted in a recent national policy report, communications, managing information, education, commerce, health care, industrial development, research, interacting with the environment, and providing government services. These new capabilities include significantly enhanced communication services, nation-wide (and world-wide) - common collaborative virtual spaces, specialized interactive environments that adjust dynamically according to the needs of the moment, and access to distributed digital resource centers. For example, they can provide access to vast repositories of organized data, images, digital media, data and other digital information, enabling them to be available anytime world-wide.

iCAIR was established with the understanding that the challenges of creating new types of information technology infrastructure will be overcome only through cooperative efforts by experts from many research communities -- corporations, government agencies, R&D organizations and universities. iCAIR's corporate partnerships not only provide crucial additional expertise and support but also ensure that the best of these new technologies and solutions migrate quickly into wider communities, such as commerce, health care, government, education, and other economic sectors.

Because new information technologies are developing so rapidly with a profound impact on society, iCAIR also has established a number of public policy initiatives related to large-scale digital communications, such as national, international, state-wide and metro area next generation communications infrastructure projects.


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