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 project was established to create a reference model for a wide-range of next generation metro digital communication services, based on advanced photonic technologies. This initiative involves policy formulation, digital communication service development, technology research and development, prototyping, testbeds, and experimentation.
Multiple new requirements for optimizing digital information flows are motivating a dramatic comprehensive revolution in data communications. In generally, this revolution can be characterized by a transition from a highly restrictive infrastructure to a highly flexible infrastructure. In a digital economy, a critical success factor is a capability to manage optimally the flow of digital information, which means managing data traffic precisely, efficiently, flexibly, quickly, and cost-effectively. Traditional digital communications do not provide the capabilities required to accomplish this objective. The restrictions on services are evident at many levels, including architecture, services definition and deployment, complexity, management, technology, integration, accessibility, support, interoperability, and cost. In part, this situation has risen from the provisioning of separate infrastructure for separate communication services, and an overall architectural design that has mandated multiple hierarchical layers for infrastructure. In addition, there are multiple separate service, technology and technical considerations for networks depending on location, at the metro edge, metro core, aggregation points, long haul, and ultra long haul. Next generation optical networking has a potential to significantly reduce or eliminate all of these barriers. Emerging standards and technologies for optical networks allow for a significantly simplified architecture, enhanced, easy and quick to provision services, more effective management, better interoperability and integration, and overall lower cost. Also, it will be possible to provision services on these future networks such that global applications will be able to be much more location independent. To some degree, one of the key goals in this development is to create network services with a high degree of transparency, that is, allow network technical elements to become invisible while providing precise levels of required resources to applications and services.
The Optical Metro Network Initiative (OMNI) is developing a reference model for this next level of 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 SBC, Nortel, iCAIR, 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, and GigaPort/SurfNet of the Netherlands. This initiative is part of iCAIR's mission, which is to accelerate leading edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced networking technologies, in partnership with the global community.
Motivating the current revolution in digital communications are numerous drivers. The following sections present some of these drivers as well as information on emerging technologies, standards, new types of digital communication services and economics. Key drivers described here include: a) next generation optical metro networks---new types of large-scale, wide-area foundation municipal digital infrastructure that also allow access to international network fabrics; b) next generation applications; c) innovative digital infrastructure, especially Grid computing; d) new digital communication services; e) emerging technologies and network standards; and f) economic and financial models.
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Metro Economics and OMNI
Metro areas have always been major economic centers and, traditionally, metro governments have enabled their economies by assisting in the creation of large scale infrastructure. A city, as a transportation nexus, typically enables the creation of roads, bridges, canals, railroads, and airports. Cities also enable the development and implementation of critical utility infrastructure, such as power grids and water mains. However, the new economy is based on the efficient management of digital information. A number of research studies, including by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, have demonstrated that appropriate implementation of information technology is a key productivity and economic enabler. Consequently, the critical large scale infrastructure for the 21st century economy comprises a variety of systems that support digital communication services. Therefore, it is appropriate for cities to prepare for the 21st century economy by leading initiatives in new digital communications policy, requirements definition, and large scale digital communication infrastructure design, and implementation.
OMNI, Next Generation Applications, Grids, and iGRID
The OMNI projects have been undertaken in part to create new advanced digital communication services that will enable a wide range of new, powerful advanced applications. These data and computationally intensive applications including those related to high performance streaming media, computational scientific research, especially those using large scale computational Grids, engineering, health care, finance, and commercial services. Underlying such discipline-specific applications are cross-cutting support applications, such as advanced digital video, remote access to scientific instruments, specialized virtual-reality such as Teleimmersion, data-mining, and high-performance distributed systems. Grids are next generation cyberinfrastructure used for extremely large scale data and computationally intensive applications. Some Grids use networks not for standard communications infrastructure but as backplanes for high performance computational clusters, comprised of hundreds or thousands of individual compute nodes. Applications being tested for future 10 GE technology include high-resolution streaming video to deliver full screen, full color, full motion medical images to specialists at remote locations in real time. The trial will also test applications such as next-generation 3D visualization for industrial design, financially focused large-scale data transfers, data mining for scientific and commercial use, and computational science - data intensive science for high bandwidth applications.
Many such next generation applications are demonstrated every two years as part of the iGrid - the International Grid - showcase. These iGRID demonstrations are organized by the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The goal of iGRID is to showcase the evolution and importance of global research community networking. iGrid highlights achievements in grid architecture development and the advancements enabled in science, engineering, cultural heritage, distance education, media communications, and art and architecture 24 demonstrations featuring technical innovations and application advancements requiring teleimmersion, large datasets, distributed computing, remote instrumentation, collaboration, human/computer interfaces, streaming media, digital video and high-definition television. During the last iGRID (iGRID 2000) in Yokahama, Japan, 14 countries participated: Canada, CERN, Germany, Greece, Japan, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA. (ref: www.startap.net/igrid2002)
Next Generation Network Services
Traditionally, communications services and infrastructure were optimized for voice traffic rather than digital communication services. As digital communication services were developed, they shared the same common infrastructure. Consequently, digital communication services were limited in with regard to design, enhanced and new deployment, access areas, customization and general capabilities. The new economy requires rapid ubiquitous deployment of high performance digital communications services, including remote locations. Initially, this initiative is focusing primarily on data services based on the IP protocol, but also it also examining requirements for support of a wide range of other protocols.
The initial services that are the focus of OMNI activities are GE and 10 GE services, GE and 10 GE transit, and next generation Gbps exchange services. GE has become particularly popular in metro areas because it allows for easy extensions of enterprise networks. Later, other types of metro services based on popular protocols, e.g., ESCON will be incorporated into the project. Consumer services, such as broadband to the home are not being directly addressed. However, for such services to be successful, they will require high performance core network services. Another area of investigation is optical virtual private networks, or OVPNs. These capabilities are particularly powerful for creating networks among diverse communities, including those at different organizations, working on common projects. For corporations OVPNs can provide innovative communication services that address issues related to:
- Customer Care
- Product and Services Management
- Product Design and Development
- Internal Resource Management
- Supplier Relations
- Value Chain Integration and Enhancement
- Stakeholder Interaction
- Extension via Partnership
For further information on GE in metro areas, see Metro GE.
Next Generation Network Services Provisioning
New models for communications infrastructure are based on a wide range of new customer requirements, such as high growth in demand (e.g., 10,000*current bandwidth), greater access, new types of services, and customized services. However, these infrastructures are also being designed and optimized for new types of network and services provisioning, allowing for faster development of new and enhanced services, customer management, including for interlinking sites with new types of communication channels, eg, "wavelengths," and new techniques for management at any chosen level or combination of levels (e.g., layers 1-7). One goal is to allow for instantaneous, "point-and-click" provisioning of network services.
Recently, the Multi-Service Optical Networking (MON) was announced as a dedicated point-to-point network solution that enables customers to interconnect client data centers and business sites in a highly reliable, secure metropolitan area network. This service is also ideal for mirroring data and transmitting large quantities of information at high speeds while allowing customers uninterrupted access to their business operations. This high-bandwidth optical network is enabled by DWDM, which makes it possible for many data streams to travel over the same pair of fiber by utilizing different colors of light.
As part of this program, the research partners, including SBC, Nortel, iCAIR, EVL at UIC, MCS at Argonne National Laboratory, and CANARIE have created the world's most advanced metro network testbed (OMNInet), based on leading-edge photonic technology, including lambda switching. OMNInet is a collaborative experimental network designed to assess and validate next-generation optical technologies, architectures and applications in metropolitan networks. 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 being designed to be high-performance, highly scalable, and manageable at all levels. OMNInet research projects include:
- Trials of highly reliable, scalable 10 GE in metropolitan and wide area networks. Ethernet is the global standard for local area networks (LANS) that connect today's computing devices. 10 GE runs at speeds 10-100 times faster than current standards, and can extend the network throughout metropolitan areas (MANs) and between cities (WANs).
- Trials of new technologies to support applications that require extremely high levels of bandwidth.
- Development and trial of optical switching, ensuring maximized capabilities in the wide scale deployment of all-photonic networks.
- Trial of new technologies that allow for application signaling to optical network resources.
- Experiments with new types of advanced networking middleware that make networks more intelligent.
The OMNInet technology trial, is based on a four-site prototype network located in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, which is a suburb just North of Chicago.
The OMNInet testbed is based on a wide range of new architectures emerging from multiple standards groups, including the ITU, IETF, and IEEE. New techniques for traffic engineering are being explored on this testbed, especially for taking advantage of an architectural model that is more distributed than hierarchical. Communications architecture based on complex core facilities are optimal when 80% of information flows are local, for example, with voice traffic. Much digital communications traffic, for example, Internet traffic, consists of remote access in over 90% of all cases. These patterns require new types of architecture and engineering. OMNInet testbed 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.
OMNInet was established to allow research on core optical components, including multiprotocol, integrated DWDM, experiments with new technologies and techniques, (including IP control planes using GMPLS, which employs a signaling overlay architecture), testing, and analysis, and for the creation of new protocols. OMNInet employs Internet protocols and mesh architectures to provide reliability through redundancy, automatic restoration, optimization through traffic management, pre-fault-diagnostics for trouble avoidance, granulated service definition, etc.
OMNInet and Networking Gateways
One of the initial issues that arose when designing the OMNInet testbed was developing capabilities for supporting links to traditional network services, such as SONET and ATM, as well as emerging services, eg, transit for next generation wireless services. Although these types of considerations are part of the testbed agenda, they are not currently on the critical path for experimentation. These tpes of consideration will be addressed during a later phase of the project.
OMNInet and International Networking
As a partnership project with StarLight, the OMNI activities include access to international advanced testbed networks. STAR TAP/StarLight: STAR TAP (Science, Technology and Research Transit Access Point), a National Science Foundation-funded project of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of UIC is the world's only connection point for advanced networks world-wide. It connects advanced networks form all the major world economies. StarLight is the Optical, or next generation, STAR TAP. StarLight is being developed by the EVL, the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University, and the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with Canada's CANARIE and Holland's SURFnet.
Scientists will be the first users of the burgeoning optical network by virtue of their high bandwidth applications and distributed computing and storage needs. Allowing scientists to take better advantage of emerging national and international optical networks will lay the groundwork for future optical commodity networks. The National Science Foundation-funded StarLightSM project is one such advanced optical infrastructure and proving ground for network services optimized for high-performance applications. StarLight is now being used by EVL researchers to conduct Chicago-to-Amsterdam optical testing. It is being built in parallel with STAR TAPSM, the Chicago-based international, interconnection point that has facilitated the long-term interconnection and interoperability of advanced international networking since 1997. (www.startap.net/starlight)
The first international link that will connect to the OMNInet testbed will be NetherLight. This NetherLight project, which is being funded by the government of the Netherlands through the GigaPort Network, is creating the world's first trans-Atlantic wavelength (2.5 Gbps) devoted to research. The link will connect StarLight and a science center in Amsterdam. NetherLight research includes multiple topics. This project is building a pure lambda switching facility in Amsterdam and connecting it via dedicated lambdas to StarLight. 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.
OMNI and Metro Infrastructure Policy
A key component of the OMNI activities relate to the development of policies related to planning and implementing large scale digital communication infrastructure that assists in preparing cities for the new digital economy. These projects relate to metro area strategic planning, removing artificial barriers to the development of such infrastructure, creating infrastructure design and development policies, creating new types of financial models, and developing organizational partnerships that enable the creation of advanced infrastructure. Some of these policy activities indicate the importance of advanced digital communications infrastructure to metro economies, and, more specifically, the recognition of general access to wavelengths as a key economic enabler. Others focus on developing business models for providing new forms of digital communication services. Also, the perspective here is that basic fiber infrastructure is moving toward deployment as a common commodity utility.
The International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR) accelerates leading-edge innovation and enhanced global communications through advanced technologies, in partnership with numerous international community, and national partners. The OMNInet partnership includes:
Nortel Networks is an industry leader and innovator focused on transforming how the world communicates and exchanges information. The company is supplying its service provider and enterprise customers with communications technology and infrastructure to enable value-added IP data, voice and multimedia services spanning Metro Networks, Wireless Networks and Optical Long Haul Networks. As a global company, Nortel Networks does business in more than 150 countries. More information about Nortel Networks can be found on the Web at www.nortelnetworks.com.
SBC Communications Inc. (www.sbc.com) is a global communications leader. Through its subsidiaries' trusted brands - SBC Southwestern Bell, SBC Ameritech, SBC Pacific Bell, SBC Nevada Bell, SBC SNET and Sterling Commerce - and world-class network, SBC companies provide a full range of voice, data, networking and e-business services, including local and long-distance, high-speed Internet access and data transport, network integration, software and process integration, Web site and application hosting, e-marketplace development, paging and messaging, as well as directory advertising and publishing. America's leading provider of high-speed DSL Internet service, SBC companies currently have more than 60 million access lines nationwide. SBC has a 60 percent equity interest in Cingular Wireless, its joint venture with BellSouth, which serves more than 20 million wireless customers. Internationally, SBC has telecommunications investments in 28 countries and has annual revenues that rank it among the largest Fortune 500 companies.
Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a internationally recognized research organization that has programs in advanced applications utilizing high performance infrastructure, including next generation advanced networks. EVL is the host organization of the National Science Foundation-funded Science, Technology, and Research Transit Access Point, STAR TAP. It also is a lead organization developing StarLight, the optical STAR TAP (startap.net/StarLight) (STAR TAP is a registered trademark of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. StarLight is a registered trademark of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and Northwestern University Board of Trustees). (www.evl.uic.edu)
CANARIE, the Canadian Advance Network for Advanced Research, Industry, and Education, was established in 1993 with support from Industry Canada. CANARIE is a not-for-profit industry-led corporation with over 120 fee-paying members and a 24 member board representing private and public sectors. CANARIE's mission is to facilitate the development of critical aspects of the communications infrastructure in Canada and to contribute to the nation's economy and quality of life. CANARIE was the first international network to connect to the STAR TAP and StarLight. This proposal builds on existing efforts undertaken by to develop CA*net3, a Canadian National Optical Network, the world's first national optical Internet, and CA*net*4. (www.canarie.ca)
The Math and Computer Science Division (MCS) of Argonne National Lab's mission is to increase scientific productivity in the 21st century by providing intellectual and technical leadership in the computing sciences -- computer science, applied computational mathematics, and computational science. MCS is a recognized leaders in next generation advanced information technology infrastructure, including Grid computing, high performance networks, network middleware, and high performance applications. (www.mcs.anl.gov)
GigaPort/SURFnet (Netherlands). GigaPort is a joint project of the Dutch government, trade and industry, educational institutions and research institutes. The aim of GigaPort is to provide the Netherlands with advanced, innovative technology. The GigaPort Network is one of the world's leading research networks (GigaPort is implemented under the authority of the GigaPort Steering Committee. GigaPort Network is realised by SURFnet; GigaPort Applications by the Telematica Instituut. (www.gigaport.nl, www.surfnet.nl)
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