[At the this weeks spring Internet 2 meeting there was a major announcement on Internet 2’s new Open Science, Scholarship and Services Exchange (OS3E) initiative. This could be a real game changer.
OS3E embodies the concept of “software defined networks” where users (or network operators) can configure their own network topology and architectures using OpenFlow as the underlying enabling technology. For those who are familiar with the technology will recognize many of the same features and capabilities in CANARIE’s UCLP (http://www.uclp.ca/). “UCLP is a software system that allows end-users, either people or sophisticated applications, to treat network resources as software objects and provision and reconfigure lightpaths within a single domain or across multiple, independently managed, domains. Users can also join or divide lightpaths and hand off control and management of these larger or smaller private sub-networks to other users. “
What is exciting to me about OS3E, and one of the original drivers of UCLP, is the fact that it may fundamentally change the future of R&E networking globally. With the development of open lightpath exchanges around the world network users and researchers will now have greater flexibility in terms of defining network topologies and services that fit their specific needs and applications. Today R&E networks are very hierarchical whether they are based on IP and/or lightpaths. Open exchanges allow significant greater flexibility in defining network topologies and solutions. With software defined networking like OS3E or UCLP and open lightpath exchanges researchers can now directly peer with each other, with other institutions or with other networks. There is no need for traditional network hierarchy and those researchers and/or intuitions who can afford their own fiber or lightpaths can now interconnect and peer with each other at those open exchange points. More importantly users do not have to be locked into a given network protocol. Different OS3E instantiations, (Articulated Private Networks in UCLP speak or network slice in OpenFlow speak) can enable different applications and services such as shared Ethernet, switched optical lighpaths or simple static optical circuits. The choice of network service is determined by the user and not dictated by the network operator.
Many researchers and funding agencies believe that network infrastructure, especially for big science, should be treated as resource similar to computing and storage that is paid for, and controlled by the researcher themselves. Tools like OS3E and UCLP enable this type of funding models. For the increasing number of big science applications such as high energy physics, astronomy, genomics, climate modeling and many others who now need large dedicated pipes the advent of OS3E and open lightpath exchanges is a true game changer.
Internet 2 announcement of OS3E
White paper on software defined networks and background on OS3E
The importance of open exchange points
Green Internet Consultant. Practical solutions to reducing GHG emissions such as free broadband and electric highways. http://green-broadband.blogspot.com/