Creating Next Generation Communication Services and 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. These technologies have often been described as “disruptive” because they have the power to significantly transform existing services and practices.

Research and Development

iCAIR advances its mission by undertaking research and development projects in four areas:

  • Advanced Applications
  • Next Generation Network Middleware and Distributed Network Systems
  • Large-scale, High Performance Communications Infrastructure
  • Public Policy Studies

Research projects in large scale digital communications infrastructure include those based on leading-edge dynamic optical networks and highly distributed programmable systems. "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, for example, through demonstrations at local, national, and international forums.

Advanced Applications

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 quality of service 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.

Next Generation Network Middleware and Distributed Network Systems

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 new 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 and transport of multiple terabytes and even petabytes of information.

Currently, as has been the case for many years, key drivers for creating new information technology are large scale e- science applications, which are usually highly distributed and extremely resource intensive. Many of the most advanced R&D projects are motivated by the need to develop networking services and technologies to support large scale global e-science applications that are based on distributed infrastructure- high performance "cyber-infrastructure" comprised of highly distributed resources, at sites around the world. Such applications require high performance capabilities at all levels, e.g., allowing for managing and communicating enormous, highly distributed, volumes of information. These capabilities allow scientists and engineers to dynamically interact with world-wide advanced facilities. These projects often encounter technology barriers years before they are recognized through general service activities.

In addition to large scale capacity, many of these applications require sophisticated processes, for example, fine-grained control of remote specialized instrumentation. iCAIR has established partnerships with multiple science communities to address important basic problems in new infrastructure development related to the requirements of large scale e-science. 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. Creating new advanced services and infrastructure enables powerful new methods for scientific discovery in many disciplinary areas.

Large-scale, High Performance Communications Infrastructure

The capabilities motivated by scientific research are also of value to organizations beyond the e-science community. Eventually, these new services and technologies migrate to wider areas, including those related to commercial applications, through technology transfer processes. New communication services are also required to enable many new capabilities for a broad range of social activities, including information management, health care, education, commerce, industrial development, crisis response, and environmental protection. 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 unique ways to access and assemble vast repositories of organized data, images, digital media, data and other digital information, enabling them to be available anytime world-wide.

Public Policy Studies

iCAIR was established with the understanding that the challenges of creating new types of communication services and 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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