Advanced Infrastructure and Testbeds
Over the past few years, a variety of efforts have been directed at developing enhanced Internet infrastructure, through standards efforts such as those undertaken by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), through NSF and DOE programs, through the efforts of federal agency mission networks, especially the ultra high speed networks supported by DARPA, and through commercial and university research and development. Some of the more interesting research relates to creating all optical networks.
With its networking infrastructure partners, iCAIR is involved in many projects focused on designing and developing architecture and technologies related to the next-generation all optical Internet ("IP-over-Optical"). The continued development of a wide-range of powerful new networking technologies based on advanced optics is leading to a major new revolution in digital communications. These include new and enhanced components such as Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technologies, optimized fibers, increased numbers of channels per fiber, tunable filters with wider ranges, tunable lasers, amplifiers with better gain capabilities, and capabilities for dynamic switching, such as by using MEMS and other all optical (O-O-O) devices.
Another part of this research involves new network architectures that allow the control of network core resources to be migrated to intelligent devices, for example, by providing for an IP-based control plane for optical resources. One method for accomplishing this has been proposed by the IETF -- the generalized extension of MPLS or GMPLS.
Among the more advanced research projects in which iCAIR is involved relate to developing networking technologies that support global e-science applications that are enabled by Grid-based infrastructure- high performance "cyber-infrastructure," comprised of large-scaled distributed resources. These advanced infrastructures allow scientists and engineers to dynamically interact with world-wide advanced facilities. Such advanced infrastructure enables powerful new methods for scientific discovery in many disciplinary areas. One reason that these methods are successful is that they allow direct control by advanced applications over all resources, including network resources.
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Grid Networks: Next Generation Networks and Computational Grids
The development of new types of information technology continues to progress rapidly. It has often been noted that one way to view the future is to visit an advanced technology research lab where innovative developers are creating powerful new architecture, protocols, integrated systems. Numerous next generation, large-scale advanced applications are being developed on innovative distributed technology infrastructure. Grid architecture represents one such innovation. The design, development and deployment of computational Grids is focused on creating a more seamless and direct means of utilizing multiple types of resources within a dynamic environment. The majority of Grid projects today are directed solving complex problems, which can are bandwidth, data, and compute cycle intensive, such as the types of problems encountered by large scale e-Science. However, these types of technologies are already beginning to migrate toward providing support for corporate use and more mass market applications.
To date, almost all Grids have been based on static, routed networks. iCAIR and its research partners are developing methods that enable network resources to become first class entities within Grid environments, that is, controllable by other Grid processes like any other resource. In particular, iCAIR is developing new methods for allowing lightpaths within Grid environments to be control, so that network topologies can be dynamically reconfigured. For the advanced Grid architectures, using these techniques can transform communication services within a distributed environment. For example, instead of being implemented as a standard communication mechanism, the network becomes a high performance backplane for highly distributed computational resources. Multiple Grid projects have been established throughout the world. For further information on Grid Computing, Grid projects, and Grid networking, see: Grid Computing.
Optical Network Architecture and DWDM
One particularly promising emerging set of core networking technologies consists of those based on DWDM. iCAIR has established multiple projects based on optical networking using DWDM, which has been used in long-haul networks since the late 1980's, but is just now being deployed in regional, metro and enterprise networks. Unlike traditional usage, iCAIR is using DWDM not as a technology providing static point-to-point services but one that supports dynamically provisioned services. DWDM is a technology that allows for transmitting multiple frequencies of light through a single stand of optical fiber, thereby enabling communication of data simultaneously with each frequency used and substantially increasing the capacity of the fiber. All-optical networks, based on DWDM, are key to meeting the needs of numerous advanced applications. All major industrial economies are moving toward the wide deployment of optical networks based on these types of technologies. iCAIR is using dynamic lightpath provisioning technologies for LANs, WANs, national trials, and international demonstrations.
Optical Metro Network Initiative (OMNI)
Increasingly, next-generation optical metro networks are being recognized as key enablers for all sectors of digital economies. The Optical Metro Network Initiative (OMNI) is developing a reference model for multiple next generation large scale communication services, based on optical technologies that allow for lightpath-based services supported by advanced photonic technologies. One of the key projects of this initiative is the OMNInet testbed. OMNInet is an inter-organizational cooperative research partnership, which includes iCAIR, Nortel, SBC (now AT&T), the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the MCS Division of Argonne National Lab, CANARIE (the Canadian Advanced Network for Advanced Research, Industry, and Educations. Experiments on the testbed have been extended via NetherLight to SurfNet in the Netherlands. (ref: www.icair.org/omninet/)
OMNInet is based on leading-edge photonic technology, including components that support rapid lambda switching. On this large-scale optical metro testbed, the partnership is conducting trials of photonic-based GE and 10GE services (providing speeds of 10 Gigabits per second). These services are high-performance, highly scalable, and manageable at all levels. These services are based on new types of photonic-based components, architecture and techniques that support multiple interconnected lightwave (lambda) paths within fiber strands. OMNInet employs Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM), which allows transmitting multiple light frequencies through a single fiber. Each frequency can simultaneously communicate data - substantially increasing the capacity of the fiber. Traditionally, these techniques have been used for long-haul services. However, newer, related technologies are now being designed specifically to optimize local digital communication services, such as those within metro areas. Key components are adjustable lasers and minute mirrors that control light wavelengths to route traffic. (For summary information see OMNInet Overview, for more detailed information see OMNInet.)
Optical Dynamic Intelligent Network (ODIN)
The Optical Dynamic Intelligent Network (ODIN) experimental architecture is being developed by iCAIR to explore new techniques for lightpath provisioning, in particular as a mechanism for bringing directly into applications capabilities that traditionally are placed deep within the core of networks. This new method of closely integrating edge processes with foundation network resources is a fundamental departure from current implementations. This approach enables networks to be much more powerful, flexible, scalable and manageable than they have been previously. ODIN extensions also allow for electronic circuit provisioning, e.g., using vLANs. (Ref: "Optical Dynamic Intelligent Network Services (ODIN): An Experimental Control Plane Architecture for High Performance Distributed Environments Based On Dynamic Lightpath Provisioning, IEEE Communications, March 2006)
Simple Path Control (SPC) Protocol
The Simple Path Control protocol is a signaling mechanism, developed by iCAR, that allows for edge processes, including applications, to communicate requirements for specific paths through a network by signaling to a server capable of establishing such paths using core network resources. When such a request is signaled, the server identifies appropriate path through the network topology based on information about resource availability. It then configures an appropriate topology and informs the edge process that the paths are ready for use. SPC also provides a function for explicitly releasing paths that are no longer needed. This protocol has been submitted as a draft to the IETF (www.ieft.org)
iCAIR is a research participant in the National Science Foundation-funded OptIPuter project. The OptIPuter is a national and international distributed facility that closely relates multiple IT components, including optical networking, Internet Protocol (IP), high performance computational clusters, computer storage, and visualization technologies. It is an infrastructure envisioned as one that will tightly couple computational resources over parallel optical networks using the IP communication mechanism. The OptIPuter exploits a new world in which the central architectural element is optical networking, not computers - creating "supernetworks". This paradigm shift requires large-scale applications-driven, system experiments and a broad multidisciplinary team to understand and develop innovative solutions for a "LambdaGrid" world. The goal of this new architecture is to enable scientists who are generating terabytes and petabytes of data to interactively visualize, analyze, and correlate their data from multiple storage sites connected to optical networks. (www.optiputer.net)
Distributed Optical Testbed (DOT)
iCAIR is a principal researcher in the Distributed Optical Testbed initiative (DOT). DOT is being designed and implemented by an inter-organizational cooperative research partnership to facilitate the research and development of innovative techniques that require the efficient execution of distributed applications. The DOT research partners are creating innovative techniques required by high performance next generation applications, which are being designed to take advantage of new types of information technology infrastructure, including Grid computing, advanced middleware, such as Globus, and leading-edge optical networks. (www.dotresearch.org)
International (STAR TAP/StarLight)
As an international research center, iCAIR is participating in numerous advanced international networking projects. one, StarLight, the Optical STAR TAP, is an advanced optical infrastructure and proving ground for network services optimized for high-performance applications. The StarLight facility, operational in the summer of 2001, is located on Northwestern University's downtown campus at 710 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. StarLight will initially provide the applications-centric network research community with a Chicago-based co-location facility with enough space, power, air conditioning and fiber to engage in next-generation optical network and application research and development activities. The facility has ATM links to STAR TAP, located at the SBC/Ameritech Network Access Point, a 1GigE and 10GigE switch/router facility for high-performance access to participating networks and, ultimately, a true optical switching facility for wavelengths. StarLight's first connection was made to SURFnet, the Netherlands' research and education network, which brought two production 622Mb lines from Amsterdam to StarLight in July, 2001.
In September, SURFnet will bring an additional 2.5 Gigabit lambda to StarLight --- the world's first trans-oceanic lambda devoted to research. Canada's CA*net4 network will soon connect, as will Illinois institutions participating in I-WIRE, a State-of-Illinois-funded effort involving UIC, iCAIR, Argonne, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago and Illinois Institute of Technology. GigE connections from other countries are anticipated next year. Several carriers also have or are in the process of installing fiber into StarLight. StarLight is being developed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), iCAIR, and the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with CANARIE and SURFnet. (www.startap.net/starlight/)
NetherLight is 10 Gbps optical circuit between the Dutch advanced optical infrastructure in Amsterdam and the StarLight research facility in Chicago, which is used for advanced network research. SURFnet, Netherland's national research network has provisioned this transatlantic connection is one of the essential pieces in the creation of a global-scale experimental networking initiative that will support the most aggressive e-science applications of this decade. iCAIR and is research partners are using this circuit to conduct multiple experiments related to new techniques for global networking. NetherLight research includes multiple topics. This project is building a pure lambda switching facility in Amsterdam and connecting it via dedicated lambdas to the StarLight setup in Chicago. The facility will be used to investigate new concepts of optical bandwidth provisioning and to gain experience in these new techniques. In particular, the project will look into different scenarios on how lambdas could be used to provide tailored network performance for high demanding grid applications. Important issues will be how to: move traffic in and out of lambdas, map network data traffic to a map of lambdas, manage lambdas at peering points, provision lightpaths across multiple administrative domains, implement fine grain near real time grid application level lambda provisioning. (www.science.uva.nl/research/air/projects/optical/, www.surfnet.nl)
iCAIR has established a research partnership with the EnLIGHTened project, which is investigating dynamic, adaptive, coordinated and optimized use of networks connecting geographically distributed high-end computing and scientific instrumentation resources for high performance real-time problem resolution. The EnLIGHTened project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is a collaborative interdisciplinary research initiative that seeks to research the integration of optical control planes with Grid middleware under highly dynamic requests for heterogeneous resources.
Japan Gigabit Network 2 JGN2
Japan Gigabit Network II (JGN II) and iCAIR have formed a research partnership that is exploring many aspects of layer 1 and layer 2 based communication services and technologies. JGN II is a major research and development program, which has established the largest advanced communications testbed to date. The JGN2 testbed was established in 2004 to explore advanced research concepts related toa wide range of advanced applications, network services, and new communications architecture, protocols, and technologies. Among the research projects supported by the JGN2 testbed are many that are exploring advanced techniques for large scale science and Grid computing. (www.jgn.nict.go.jp)
Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF)
iCAIR is a founding member of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) is an international organization that is advancing new concepts, architecture and services related to dynamically provisioned lightpath (lambda) networking. The GLIF is a collaborative effort that has been undertaken by worldwide National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), consortia and institutions that manage facilities supporting directly addressable lightpaths. This organization provides lightpaths globally that can be used as part of an integrated facility to support data-intensive scientific research, and supports middleware development for lightpath based networking, including for testbeds. The resources that it provides are being used to support multiple testbed projects. (www.glif.is)
National Lambda Rail
iCAIR works in partnership with national research networks and related infrastructure sponsored by educational institutions and by Federal agencies. One such initiative, the National Lambda Rail (NLR), has created a distributed fiber facility across the US. Half of that fiber can be used for research projects. iCAIR is participating in several projects that are using the NLR for experimental projects. The connection point for these research projects is the StarLight facility. Several of these projects use the CaveWave, a 10 Gbps research circuit between UIC and UCSD managed by EVL (www.nlr.net).
iCAIR is investigating the utility of an innovative technique for controlling lightpaths that has been developed by the national advanced network of Canada (CANARIE), an architecture termed User Controlled LightPath (UCLP). As part of this investigation, iCAIR and CA*net4 are designing a testbed based on lightpaths between the iCAIR labs in Chicago and CA*net labs in Ottawa.
Nortel, the Electronic Visualization Lab of the University of Illinois at Chicago (EVL), CANARIE's CA*net4 and iCAIR have established a 10 Gbps testbed between StarLight and the Nortel research labs in Ottawa. This circuit is being used for testing, experimentation, and demonstrations at national and international conferences.
iCAIR is participating in the I-WIRE project, which is developing a state-wide infrastructure to support advanced scientific research and engineering. This project is deploying dark fiber across Illinois to support computationally and data intensive advanced applications in physics, chemistry, biology, high performance computing, data mining, astrophysics, scientific visualization, and others. This fabric will support the recently announced TeraGrid project - the Distributed Terascale Facility, funded by $53 million from the National Science Foundation. The I-WIRE network will be linked to the StarLight facility, which iCAIR is developing with UIC's EVL and ANL's MCS at 710 North Lake Shore Drive. (www.iwire.org)
Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN)
The seven-state Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN), designed in 1993 and established in 1994, works with iCAIR on a wide range of advanced networking research projects, including many involving MREN's international partners. For several years MREN served as the control plane fabric for the OMNInet testbed. MREN was also part of a regional Science Grid networking testbed (EMERGE). Another project in which iCAIR is participating is planning for the "Optical MREN." (www.mren.org)
Multiple 10 Gbps Computational Clusters
Traditionally, iCAIR computational clusters have been based on racks of compute nodes with I/O for each node provided by a GE link to a high performance L2 switch, aggregate the single GE flows to 10 GE. Currently, iCAIR is designing computational clusters that will have 10 G NICs as part of each node. iCAIR is evaluating and experimenting the various components required, high performance backplanes, NICs based on various protocols, Linux stacks, protocols, off-load technologies, writable processors, and others.
10 GE Switches
Currently, almost all of iCAIR's cluster switches are high performance GE switches. Soon many will be replaced with 10 GE switches, employing new protocols that allow for more flexible network segmentation and dynamic vLAN provisioning.
For over five years, iCAIR has been conducting research on and experimenting with all optical switches (O-O-O), based on Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Because these switches do not require electro-optical conversion, they are powerful lightpath provisioning technologies. iCAIR has developed integrated signaling and control plane software that can dynamically configure and reconfigure these devices.
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