The NREN component will establish a gigabit communications infrastructure to enhance the ability of U.S. researchers and educators to perform collaborative research and education activities, regardless of their physical location or local computational and information resources. This infrastructure will be an extension of the Internet, and will serve as a catalyst for the development of the high speed communications and information systems needed for the National Information Infrastructure (NII).
The emerging NII will require: advances in the underlying foundations of networking technology and in generic networking services; the development and deployment of major new networking technologies; broader access to state-of-the-art high performance computing facilities; and early testing of new commercial products and services so that these can be effectively integrated into NREN associated networks.
The principal objectives of the NREN component are to:
The NREN component's Interagency Internet and Gigabit Research and Development elements contribute to reaching these goals:
Near-term enhanced network services will be developed on the Nation's evolving networking and telecommunications infrastructure for use by mission agencies and the research and education communities. Interagency Internet activities include expansion of the connectivity and enhancement of the capabilities of the federally funded portion of today's research and education networks, and deployment of advanced high performance technologies and services as they mature. Coordinated among Federal agencies in cooperation with the private sector, this effort succeeds the Interim Interagency NREN element identified in previous reports about the HPCC Program.
The Interagency Internet is a network of networks, ranging from high speed cross-country networks, to regional and mid-level networks, to state and campus network systems. Its major Federal components are the national research agency networks listed below. When these agencies' "backbone networks" are upgraded, together they will form a national gigabit network to support research and education. This network may in turn serve as a prototype for broader national gigabit networks.
The Interagency Internet and the other, non-federally-supported, portions of the Internet connect the Nation's communities of researchers and educators to each other; to facilities and resources such as computation centers, databases, libraries, laboratories, and scientific instruments; and to supporting organizations such as publishers and hardware and software vendors. The Interagency Internet also provides international connections that serve the national interest. These services will be continually enhanced as the Interagency Internet evolves.
The Interagency Internet also provides a testbed to stimulate the market for advanced network technologies such as Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) transmission infrastructure, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) cell switches, high speed routers, computer interfaces, and other communications hardware and software. These technologies are being developed by the telecommunications industry, routing vendors, and computer manufacturers, in collaboration with government and academia, as part of the NREN component of the HPCC Program. Through these efforts, the HPCC agencies will provide expertise in the systems integration of key technologies to form an integrated and interoperable high performance network system that will continue to meet the needs of the Nation's research and education communities. Once the initial development risks are reduced through this collaboration among government, industry, and academia, the U.S. communications community can build on these experiences and develop new products and services to serve the broader marketplace of NII applications.
The Gigabit Research and Development element is a comprehensive program to develop the fundamental technologies needed for a national network with advanced capabilities and with a minimum gigabit per second (Gb/s) transmission speed. Gigabit research and development takes place in two ways: through a basic research program that provides the building blocks to move data at increasingly faster rates with novel techniques such as all optical networking; and through the deployment of testbed networks that use and prove the viability of these techniques. The testbeds provide an environment for the development of advanced applications targeted toward the solution of HPCC Grand Challenges.
As these technologies for networking hardware and software are developed and shown to be viable and cost-effective, they will be incorporated into the Interagency Internet. They will also provide a foundation for supporting Grand and National Challenges and their further extension to the National Information Infrastructure. Building on this foundation, the government and industrial partners will develop prototypes for a future high capability commercial communications infrastructure for the Nation.
NREN Component Management
Each agency implements its own NREN activities through normal agency structures and coordination with OMB and OSTP. All 10 agencies participate in the NREN component as users. Multiagency coordination is achieved through FCCSET, CPMES, HPCCIT, and the HPCCIT High Performance Communications working group.
Operation of the Interagency Internet is coordinated by the Federal Networking Council (FNC), which consists of agency representatives. The FNC and its Executive Committee establish direction, provide further coordination, and address technical, operational, and management issues through working groups and ad hoc task forces. The FNC has established the Federal Networking Council Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from several sectors including library sciences, education, computers, telecommunications, information services, and routing vendors, to assure that program goals and objectives reflect the interests of these broad sectors.
Increased Connectivity and Use of the Interagency Internet
The Interagency Internet has experienced tremendous growth in the number of connections (and hence the number of researchers) it supports, and in the amount of traffic that it carries. Significant leveraging of the Interagency Internet activities have resulted in the following:
Traffic on the NSFNET backbone has doubled over the past year, and has increased a hundred-fold since 1988. Improvements and upgrades to the network made by NSF have kept pace with the increased traffic and have advanced the state of network technology and operations.
ARPA, DOE, NASA, and NSF provide international connectivity to the Pacific Rim, Europe, Japan, United Kingdom, South America, China, and the former Soviet Union, for mission-specific scientific collaborations and general research and education infrastructure requirements. These links are of varying speeds, with many of the larger "fat pipes" cost-shared and co-managed by agencies requiring high speed connectivity.
Schematic of the interconnected "backbone" networks of NSF, NASA, and DOE, together with selected client regional and other networks. The backbone topology is shown on a plane above the outline of the U.S. Line segments connect backbone nodes with geographic locations where client networks attach.
Procurement of Fast Packet Services
The need for advanced networking services has been driven by the requirements of distributed scientific visualization and remote experiment control, and more recently by the phenomenal growth of multimedia applications. In order to satisfy these needs, DOE and NASA are in the process of jointly acquiring fast packet services based on new telecommunications industry-provided services (for example, ATM/SONET). The initial deployment will provide a 45 megabits per second (Mb/s) backbone service; upgrades to higher speeds are planned as soon as technology and budgets permit.
A key feature of this procurement is the use of as yet untariffed telecommunications provider services in an alpha test mode. In order to meet this procurement's deployment schedule, the telecommunications industry has accelerated its prototyping and deployment plans. The IITA component of the HPCC Program will later use these technologies via commercial services from the telecommunications industry and router vendor market.
NASA and ARPA will use NASA's geostationary Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS), launched in 1993, to provide even higher speed (for example, 622 Mb/s) ATM/SONET transmission to remote sites such as Alaska and Hawaii. The deployment will allow the HPCC agencies to gain experience in interfacing both terrestrial and satellite high speed communications systems. ARPA manages the development and deployment of the ACTS High Data Rate Terminals.
Internet Network Information center (InterNIC)
In 1992, NSF issued a competitive solicitation for an Internet Network Information center (InterNIC) to provide a variety of services to the worldwide Internet community. Awards were made to three organizations listed below to collaborate in providing these services. Information about how to connect to the Internet, pointers to network tools and resources, and seminars on various topics held across the country is available from the InterNIC Information Services (listed in the Contacts section).
InterNIC Service Awards
Service Description Award Made To Information General information General about the Internet Atomics/CERFnet and how to use it Directory Coordinated directory AT&T and of the growing number Database of resources available on the Internet Registration Registry of the growing Network number of networks Solutions Inc. connected to the Internet
Prompted by the recent development of network-based tools to seek out information by querying remote databases, NSF has established a Clearinghouse for Networked Information Discovery and Retrieval (Click here to connect to CNIDR's local Web) tools for assembling, disseminating, and enhancing such publicly available network tools. The clearinghouse complements the InterNIC.
Solicitation of the Next Generation NSFNET
Now that basic network services are readily and economically available commercially, NSFNET will, beginning in 1994, evolve into a very high speed national backbone for research applications requiring high bandwidth. In a new solicitation, NSF is requesting proposals to:
The NAPs will provide connectivity to mid-level or regional networks serving both commercial and research and education customers and will also provide access to the vBNS.
With respect to regional networks, this solicitation addresses only interregional connectivity. On-going complementary intraregional support will continue and will be funded at constant or rising levels. These efforts include the Connections Program, which provides grants either to individual institutions or to more effective or more economical aggregates. A separate announcement to address intraregional connection of high-bandwidth users to the vBNS is planned for FY 1994.
Interconnecting the NSF Supercomputer centers, the vBNS will be part of the Interagency Internet. It is expected that the vBNS will run at a minimum speed of 155 Mb/s and that low speed connections to NAPs will be routed elsewhere.
Gigabit Research Projects
By 1996, gigabit research will lead to an experimental nationwide network able to deliver speeds up to 2.4 billion bits per second to individual end user applications.
Ongoing research and development addresses communications protocols, resource allocation algorithms, network security systems, exploration of alternative network architectures, hardware and software, and the validation of that research by the deployment of several wide-area testbed networks. Several high data rate local area network testbeds will allow Federal agencies, industry, and academic researchers to explore innovative approaches to advanced applications such as global change research, computer imagery, and chip design.
In 1990, ARPA and NSF jointly began sponsoring five gigabit network research testbeds; all are expected to be operational by the end of 1993. The research at the five testbeds and at testbeds initiated subsequently (e.g., MAGIC sponsored by ARPA), focuses on network technology and network applications, with alternative network architectures, implementations, and applications of special interest.
Each testbed explores at least one aspect of high performance distributed computing and networking; together they seek to create and investigate a balanced high performance computing and communications environment.
Testbed teams consist of several government agencies (ARPA, DOE, Department of the Interior, NASA, NSF, state centers, and supercomputer centers), a number of universities, computer companies, and various local and long distance telephone companies that participate both as service providers and experimenters.
Testbed Description Sites Principal Research Participants and Collaborating Telecommunications Carriers Aurora* Explore alternative network Bellcore -- Morristown, NJ Bell Atlantic technologies, new network IBM -- Hawthorne, NY Bellcore management and distributed system MIT -- Cambridge, MA IBM paradigms, and quality of service U. Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia MCI techniques for gigabit network MIT multimedia applications. NYNEX U. Arizona U. Pennsylvania Blanca* Investigate network control, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) Ameritech real-time protocols, and distributed -- Berkeley, CA Astronautics interactive applications including NCSA -- Champaign-Urbana, IL AT&T remote thunderstorm visualization, U. California at Berkeley Bell Atlantic radio astronomy imaging, and U. Illinois -- Champaign-Urbana LBL multimedia digital libraries. U. Wisconsin at Madison NCSA Pacific Bell U. California at Berkeley U. Illinois at Champaign-Urbana U. Wisconsin at Madison Casa* Investigate distributed large-scale Caltech -- Pasadena, CA Caltech supercomputing over wide-area Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) JPL gigabit networks using chemical -- Pasadena, CA LANL reaction dynamics, geology, and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) MCI climate modeling applications. San Diego Supercomputer center (SDSC) Pacific Bell UCLA SDSC UCLA USWest Nectar* Investigate software and interfacing Carnegie-Mellon U. (CMU) Bell Atlantic/Bell of Pennsylvania environments for gigabit-based -- Pittsburgh, PA Bellcore heterogeneous computing and Pittsburgh Supercomputer center (PSC) CMU explore chemical processing and PSC combinatorial optimization applications. VISTANet* Evaluate the application of BellSouth -- Chapel Hill, NC BellSouth gigabit networks and distributed GTE -- Durham, NC GTE computing techniques to interactive MCNC (formerly Microelectronics MCNC radiation therapy medical center of North Carolina) North Carolina State U treatment planning. -- Research Triangle Park, NC UNC-CH U. North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) Magic Early demonstration of high speed Minnesota Supercomputer center Digital Equipment Corp. terrain visualization with longer -- Minneapolis DOE range plans to incorporate real-time U. of Kansas in Lawrence Earth Resources Observation sensor data into a real-time U.S. Army's Future Battle Laboratory Systems Data center virtual world model and display. -- Fort Leavenworth, KS LBL U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) MITRE -- Sioux Falls, SD Minnesota Supercomputer center Northern Telecom Split Rock Telecom Sprint Southwestern Bell SRI International U. Kansas U.S. Army High Performance Computing Research center U.S. Army's Future Battle Laboratory USGS * Information summarized from "A Brief Description of the CNRI Gigabit Testbed Initiative," Corporation for National Research Initiatives, 1895 Preston White Drive, Suite 100, Reston, Virginia, 22091-5434, (703) 620-8990.
ARPA-sponsored consortia and individual projects are implementing novel networks that minimize or eliminate electronic content and replace it with optical technology. These efforts use alternative optical schemes for data rates in excess of 10 Gb/s. Industry partnerships guarantee a rapid transition of the most promising technologies into the commercial sector.
ARPA's Washington Area Bitway is a multiple-technology testbed in the Washington-Baltimore area that enables early experience with advanced network technologies. The first phase, called the Advanced Technology Demonstration Network (ATDnet) uses the best commercial prototypes of SONET/ATM technology to provide 100Mb/s-1Gb/s services to several DOD agencies and NASA. Applications include ACTS ground connections, imaging, and gigabit encryption. Later phases will demonstrate advanced optical technologies over the same optical fiber paths.
Another ARPA demonstration project will show the utility of asymmetric rate/asymmetric path (Cable TV and dialup) network access. Planned for the San Francisco Bay Area and for the Washington, D.C. area, the project is designed to explore a relatively inexpensive alternative to satisfying the "last mile" -- that is, connections to homes and businesses -- in high speed networking implementations.
NSF also supports Project ACORN, a collaborative research effort with an NSF Engineering Research center and its industrial consortia, that is investigating lightwave networks of the 21st century. The project's TeraNet, a laboratory implementation and feasibility demonstration, will lead to a campus-wide field experiment involving leading-edge users. NSF has also begun to support research in all-optical networks.
Bring MAGIC testbed into operation. Conduct initial terrain visualization demonstrations.
Demonstrate prototypes of gigabit ATM/SONET technology operating over fiber and satellite (using ACTS) media. Install initial gigabit network interconnection.
Bring all-optical testbed networks into operation.
Put medical, terrain visualization, and modeling applications on 100 megabit and gigabit class networks.
Complete ESnet and NSI fast packet upgrades.
Beta test high speed LAN interconnects with ESnet's fast packet WAN services.
Make awards to establish a series of NAPs, a Routing Arbiter, and a vBNS that links NSF supercomputer sites and is accessible from the NAPs.
Formulate programs and solicit proposals to support high bandwidth applications on the vBNS.
Continue improvements in U.S.-to-international connectivity.