My photo

Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A bold new vision for research networks in Europe

[A committee made of NRENs, researchers and users has produced a very interesting white paper on the future of research networking in Europe. The paper articulates a vision of a network of NREN and pan-national virtual network peers made up of cross border fiber and other direct interconnections, rather than relying exclusively on a traditional hierarchical network architecture. I particularly like the idea of a “network factory” where the job of future network engineers will not be to build networks, but to provide tools to others to create their own virtual networks on top of a common substrate made of NRENs, cross border, campus networks and backbone links. Worth reading. Some excerpts from the paper-BSA]

To plan, provide and manage an advanced networking infrastructure interconnecting NRENs via a hybrid optical interconnect that includes GÉANT3 backbone links, direct Cross-Border-Fibres (CBF) and global connections.

To develop and support an agreed upon portfolio of multi-domain services enabling NREN Operators to manage secure and reliable networking solutions across the extended European Research Area and beyond, around the globe.

.. we are witnessing the emergence of a multitude of user-driven virtual networks and this trend may be considered as a new paradigm shift. GÉANT3 should evolve as a network factory with the network itself being an entity capable to create/host complex objects made of circuits and nodes, enabling community oriented services. Summarizing, there will be a constant need to
evaluate the significance of advanced technology without compromising the production quality of the GÉANT3 service portfolio.

The network infrastructures are becoming increasingly important with the deployment of services that deliver advanced capabilities to the end users through the network. It is expected that the High Performance Computing community, including growing Grid initiatives and fertilized by the emerging Cloud Computing concept will continue to exploit the opportunities that access to high speed networks brings.

Architecturally, the general adoption of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) will allow the integration of services from many different providers creating a vibrant and competitive set of offerings built on top of the network.

R&E networking is by nature multi-domain, thus services must be established across confederate (loosely coupled) administrative domains: Campuses, NRENs and International interconnections. The latter include GÉANT3 backbone links, Cross-Border-Fibres (CBFs) and connections with global peers. Expedited, eventually automated multi-domain management is an area where our community will continue innovating, triggered by pressing end-user requirements and profiting from the web of trust amongst partner NRENs and their global peers.