Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Federated R&E networks take a step forward in Europe

[At the recent highly acclaimed Terena networking conference in Iceland there were several significant steps forward to move to “federated” R&E networks in Europe.
Federated R&E networks is considered by many to be the new Internet architecture not only for the R&E community, but for the Internet as a whole. With federated networks there is far less hierarchical structure of campus, regional, national and pan national networks. Instead universities, regional networks and even individual university departments establish their own network connections to Open Internet Exchange Points (OIXs) and more traditional IXs and peer directly with each other.  These networks can then  interconnect to commercial Clouds and Content Deliver Networks (CDNs) as well wireless partners at the OIX and/or IX.  Some national and pan-national R&E networks still see federated networks as a threat to their existence as local institutions or regional networks can bypass their backbone and thereby undermines their current business model. But the role of R&E networks is not to insure their permanent existence, but instead make sure that the needs of the research and education community are addressed first and foremost, even if that means surrendering their traditional role as national aggregators.  Forward looking national and pan-national R&E networks have started to realize that this is the future direction for their network architecture and are now focusing on Net+ services in terms of their core service delivery.

I am pleased to see that both Internet 2 with OpenFlow and now GEANT in their recent partnership with OpenNaaS have taken a step forward in the direction of supporting federated networks. ESnet as well is doing some very interesting work with OpenFLow in the last mile of regional networks.  OpenNaaS allows institutions or regional networks to create their own virtual IP network. It was built upon the foundations of Canada’s User Controlled LightPaths (UCLP) and the concept of Articulated Private Networks (APNs).  The original proposition of UCLP and now OpenNaaS is to allow end users or institutions construct their own networks with their own independent forwarding, management and control planes. These end user controlled networks interconnect with each other at OIXs.  Sadly in Canada, UCLP development has largely ground to a halt as the major development centers for UCLP and Software Defined Networks (SDN) - Communications Research Center and CANARIE have largely discontinued further work in these areas.  UCLP is also the foundation for the GreenStar network.

There still remains many outstanding issues with respect to the deployment of federated networks in terms of issues that all regional networks or institutions have direct access to an OIX and need a backhaul facility. Who pays for these circuits and how they are managed remains a significant issue.  Policy and Governance of OIXs are still being debated in various forums as for example GLIF.  – BSA]

Further reading
GLIF paper on Open Internet Exchanges

GEANT and OpenNaaS announcement

NORDUent OIX in London

Federated POPs in Europe

ESnent Openflow for last mile end to end networking


R&E Network and Green Internet Consultant.

email:     Bill.St.Arnaud@gmail.com
twitter:  BillStArnaud
blog:       http://billstarnaud.blogspot.com/
skype:    Pocketpro