Information Technology Frontiers for a New Millenium
Large Scale Networking
- Introduction
- LSN Support Teams
- Applications
- Next Generation Internet
- NGI Goal 1 accomplishments and plans
- NGI Goal 2.1 accomplishments and plans
- NGI Goal 2.2 accomplishments and plans
- NGI Goal 3 accomplishments and plans


LSN R&D provides the technological leadership in high performance network communications that will develop the networking technologies, services, and performance needed for the future growth of the Internet and network requirements of Federal government agencies. Early Federal networking R&D investments were instrumental in building the technological foundation of today's global Internet. Federal research laboratories, academia, and industry helped deploy prototype networking capabilities on a national scale and produced popular applications -- such as email and World Wide Web browsers -- that changed the way people use computer networks. This paved the way for our Nation's current leadership in the multi-billion dollar information technology industry.
LSN R&D in conjunction with academia, industry, and government is transitioning leading-edge networking technologies and capabilities to the private sector where their use is transforming the way we live and work. Key LSN research areas include advanced network components and technologies for engineering and managing large scale networks of the future. The LSN programs will:

  • Increase the effectiveness of Federally-funded network technology research
  • Increase the effectiveness of Federal research networks
  • Enable network-intensive applications that advance Federal goals
  • Facilitate interagency collaborations in LSN R&D
  • Provide mechanisms for cooperation in LSN R&D among Federal agencies, Government laboratories, academia, and industry
Since FY 1998, the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative has been a major LSN focus. NGI builds on the LSN programs to provide the R&D and advanced networking testbeds in new technologies and applications to rapidly expand the capabilities of the Internet. This section describes the FY 1999 accomplishments and FY 2000 plans in LSN R&D and the NGI initiative.

LSN Support Teams

The LSN Working Group (LSNWG) coordinates Federal LSN R&D efforts. Four teams report to the LSNWG, helping implement different aspects of Federal R&D. They are:

Joint Engineering
Team (JET)

The JET coordinates the network architecture, connectivity, exchange points, and cooperation among Federal agency networks (FedNets, page 38) and other high performance research networks. The JET provides close coordination of connectivity and services among vendors, academia, and industry to improve end-to-end user performance and avoid duplication of resources and efforts in providing high performance networking services. In addition, the JET cooperates with the academic community's Gigabits per second points of presence (Gigapops), the Abilene Network (a consortium among Qwest, Cisco, Nortel, and Indiana University), and Internet2 (I2). Currently, the JET is helping to implement NGI testbeds to provide high performance end-user-to-end-user services. The JET also supports cooperation among the agencies and with Abilene to provide improved, lower cost services to geographically challenging areas such as Alaska and Hawaii. It provides cooperation on critical connectivity requirements such as for demonstrations at Supercomputing (SC) conferences and for the 1999 Global Information Network (GOIN) Workshop.

Networking Research
Team (NRT)

The NRT coordinates agency networking research programs, shares networking research information among Federal agencies, and supports NGI Goal 1 (page 43) activities. It provides outreach to end users to promote dissemination of networking research information and to promote coordination among end users and applications developers. The NRT is active in developing agency workshops on middleware.

High Performance
Applications Team

The HPNAT coordinates Federal R&D to maintain and extend U.S. technological leadership in high performance networking applications through research that employs advanced networking technologies, services, and performance to support leading-edge applications. Advances in these areas will lead to new and more capable network applications to support Federal agency missions, helping build the foundation for the continued evolution of a national information infrastructure.
The HPNAT provides mechanisms for cooperation in large scale networking applications development among Federal agencies, Government laboratories, academia, and industry, and organizes information dissemination activities including technology demonstrations, workshops, and seminars. The HPNAT supports NGI Goal 3 (page 43) by helping to organize NGI demonstrations at conferences such as SC98, held in November, 1998, in Orlando, Florida.

Internet Security
Team (IST)

The IST facilitates testing and experimentation with emerging advanced security technologies and serves as a focal point and clearinghouse for application and engineering requirements for security systems. It provides the LSNWG with feedback and direction for NGI research in network security by serving as a forum for the exchange of security requirements/needs and available and emerging security technologies. The IST encourages development and use of Internet security testbeds by working closely with LSN agencies and the JET to help implement these testbeds and publicize testbed activities to national and international security research communities.


LSN R&D programs address the mission requirements of the participating agencies and the development of enabling technologies and applications to expand the capabilities of the global-scale Internet. This section describes some of the Federal agency activities.

Advanced Networking
Infrastructure and
Research (ANIR)

NSF's Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research (ANIR) program consolidates and integrates the NSFNET program and associated research to advance fundamental network research and the networking infrastructure for the science and engineering community. ANIR emphasizes the development and deployment of high performance networking for cutting-edge research in all disciplines, testing and development of prototype networks, and fundamental research for practical future high capability networks. Under this program, the vBNS links NSF-supported high performance computing centers and almost 100 research institutions engaged in research needing next generation networking capabilities. Links are being established on a competitive basis to research institutions with scientific applications demanding the highest performance networks. The activity supports collaborative development of national and international networks with other agencies and countries, the NGI initiative, and the university-based I2 program.
ANIR supports research to develop network access and control protocols, network management tools and techniques, wireless networks, mobile computing, optical systems, software to support distributed computing, software to support resource discovery and access to networked resources, and I/O devices and subsystems.

The very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS) backbone network service that provides high performance connectivity among NSF research sites and Internet2 gigapops.

Networking technology

NSF's Internet Technologies program focuses on the fundamental science and technology needed to facilitate the efficient, high speed transfer of information through networks and distributed systems. It supports development of complex network monitoring, problem detection, and resolution mechanisms; development of automated and advanced network tools, network-based middleware, and networked applications tools; and creation of usable and widely deployable networking applications that promote collaborative research and information sharing.
Research areas include agent-based networks, high speed networks, multicast, multimedia applications, multiple access protocols, network architectures, network design, network management, network security, network systems, object-oriented frameworks for networks, optical networks, performance evaluation, protocols, quality of service, resource management, traffic control, and wireless and mobile networks. The program encourages collaboration with other disciplines of computer science and engineering such as communications, control theory and devices, databases, distributed systems, operating systems, signal processing, and software. It also supports NSF's computing-communications research program, including access to high performance networks and computing systems for teams of university researchers; computer system interfaces to communications networks and other high speed peripherals; and interconnection structures among processors, memories, and I/O channels.

Active Networks

DARPA is developing a new network architecture based on programmable infrastructure. Through large scale testbeds, the Active Networks program is advancing active networking and network management, innovative network infrastructure services, and high value end-user services. This research is coordinated with network technology and service deployments made by DoD, NASA, and other Federal agencies.

Global Mobile information

DARPA's Global Mobile information systems effort will enable mobile users to access and use the full range of services available in the Defense Information Infrastructure by developing nomadic technologies and techniques at the applications, networking, and wireless link/node levels.

Extensible Networking

DARPA's Extensible Networking program supports the underlying networks and network services needed to accommodate the large scale changes necessitated by ever-increasing -- and increasingly diverse -- network traffic. Advances in networking will enable revolutionary applications and a vast increase in the geographic scope and heterogeneity of access to the information infrastructure, ensuring that the capacity of the core network and its services can be efficiently and robustly scaled to accommodate accelerated growth. To support extensible networking, DARPA initiated in FY 1999 programs in Gigabit capacity wireless networking, internetworking with low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, and deeply networked systems.

Very High Speed

NSA's Very High Speed Networking program will provide a high performance network infrastructure characterized by multi-gigabit per second trunking speeds and the ability to support sustained data flows of at least hundreds of megabits per second today, and ultimately, multi-gigabits per second.
In FY 1999, NSA increased network efficiency by reducing the networking protocol layers and moving the control back to the endpoints of the network. In cooperation with NRL and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), NSA used Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) over a wavelength, without intervening Synchronous Optical Network Transmission (SONET) terminals by transmitting an HDTV 720 progressive digitized signal at 1.5 Gbps through the equivalent of 400 kilometers and eight ATM switches. NSA is also operating an all-optical transparent Internet on the Advanced Technology Demonstration network (ATDnet) in the Washington, DC, area, employing two optical networking technologies:

  • Prototype wavelength routers from Lucent Technologies provided under the DARPA-funded MONET Consortium project
  • NSA's optical crossbar network from Optical Networks, Inc.
NSA will demonstrate end-to-end communication with no intervening electro-optical conversion, employing "just in time signaling" with "optical burst switching," to provide both packet service and circuit service on the same infrastructure. This project provides quality services on a single network and addresses the latency issue for future networks. NSA will also demonstrate optical multicasting, employing the "drop and continue" feature of the wavelength routers acting as a public network and the natural multicasting capability of an optical crossbar switch acting as a private all-optical network. Participating ATDnet sites include NSA (at its new Laboratory for Telecommunications Science), NASA's GSFC, NRL, and DIA.
Based on the results of experiments in FY 1999, NSA will study new approaches to congestion control in FY 2000 and address multi-domain network management. While the Internet permits read-only Simple Network Management Protocol access across network boundaries for access to select data, it is usually insufficient to debug a connection end-to-end. NSA will examine peer relationships between network management centers that exchange information in a controlled way, enabling end-to-end monitoring and fault isolation.

Networks for
biomedical research

NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI) is implementing evolving networking technologies and high speed interfaces to the computational infrastructure of the NCI Frederick Biomedical Supercomputing center (FBSC) to improve access for members of the biomedical research community. This will provide advances in data communications technologies including local area networking, wide area networking for multimedia data transmission, dedicated specialized high speed interfaces for local computer to computer connections (for example, high speed crossbar switches, High Performance Parallel Interface [HiPPI], and fiber channels), and the use of evolving data communications standards such as ATM and SONET. In FY 1999, this program expanded the use of visual and voice interaction systems among biomedical computing researchers and projects.

NOAA's advanced
ATM-based network

As a result of early experimentation and testing supported by NOAA's HPCC program, NOAA is installing an advanced ATM-based network in its Boulder laboratories. The network has 2,400 nodes participating in 80-90 Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). This design provides redundancy and the flexibility to allocate bandwidth for individual needs, a requirement for an infrastructure that must support realtime surface observations, satellite feeds, and the needs of a massively parallel processing supercomputer.

Adaptive wireless
technologies for
hazard response

NOAA is exploring adaptive wireless technologies for use in hazardous spill responses. NOAA has developed a rapidly deployable wireless Local Area Network (LAN) for use at the on-scene headquarters that has been successfully transitioned to operations and is now in routine use. In FY 1999, research expanded the reach of the network to the mobile field personnel evaluating a spill and provided ubiquitous high speed communications from the mobile headquarters back to the central facility.

NOAA's Coastal Services center in Charleston, South Carolina, teamed with the Florida Marine Research Institute to prototype and evaluate an emergency response system involving leading-edge computing, communications, and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies. The tested system included a wireless LAN with a range of three miles, Global Positioning System (GPS) integrated with wearable computers, and video and voice over IP, all integrated with a GIS system running at the central facility and connected via a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT). This system demonstrated both the potential of these technologies and the limits of currently available bandwidth. Pictured above left is NOAA's rapidly deployable wireless LAN based in its on-scene mobile headquarters. It has been successfully transitioned to operations and is now in routine use. In FY 1999, research expanded the reach of the network to the mobile field personnel evaluating a spill (above, center and right) and provided ubiquitous high speed communications from the mobile headquarters back to the central facility.


FedNets -- Federal agency networks -- include Federal agency mission networks and agency high performance research networks. FedNets coordinate closely to support participating agency mission and R&D requirements. The FedNets are:

  • vBNS:  NSF's very high performance Backbone Network Service
  • DREN:  Defense Research and Engineering Network
  • NREN:  NASA Research and Education Network
  • NISN:  NASA Integrated Services Network
  • ESnet:  Energy Sciences Network

Science, Technology,
and Research Transit
Access Point (STAR TAP)
and International Grid

NSF has established the Science, Technology, and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP) at the Ameritech Network Access Point (NAP) in Chicago to interconnect the vBNS with international advanced networks that support high performance applications and develop new networking technologies. STAR TAP is managed by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Chicago NAP -- a Next Generation Internet Exchange Point (NGIX) that connects to the FedNets and to Abilene, enabling international collaborations with other Federal agencies, universities, and industry.
STAR TAP facilitates the long term interconnection and interoperability of advanced international networking in support of applications, performance measuring, and technology evaluations, anchoring the international vBNS connections program and allowing collaboration with the NGI initiative and the I2 community. More than 15 country networks will interconnected at STAR TAP by the end of 1999. These include networks from the Asian-Pacific Advanced Network consortium (APAN), Canada (CA*Net -- Canada's high performance network), the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), France (Renater), Israel, The Netherlands (SURFnet), the Nordic countries (NORDUnet), Singapore (SingaREN), Taiwan (TANet), a U.S./Asia-Pacific consortium (TransPAC), and a U.S.-Russia consortium (MirNET).
One of STAR TAP's principal contributions is designing and enabling an integrated approach to the management, performance measuring, scheduling, and consumption of geographically-distributed network, computing, storage, and display resources -- a collection of resources called the International Grid (iGrid). To showcase the iGrid, EVL collaborated with Indiana University on a major research demonstration booth at SC98. The booth highlighted case studies from the U.S. and Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan.
iGrid applications instrumental in the development of high speed international networks and services include:

  • Parallel applications running on globally-distributed computing elements
  • Remote access to instruments such as electron microscopes and accelerators
  • Tele-immersion and shared workspaces
  • Collaborative medical diagnosis systems
  • New approaches to high quality digital video over commercial networks
  • APIs and toolkits for authorization, authentication, resource allocation, and communications to support the development of distributed applications
  • Multimedia conferencing tools that require quality of service and differential handling of individual streams in a bundle (for example, audio quality is usually preferred over video, and reliable protocols are needed for text conferencing and whiteboards)

High Performance
Network Service
Providers (HPNSPs)

NSF has designated a category of commercial sector High Performance Network Service Providers (HPNSPs) that provide advanced network services over broadband networks to university and Federal agency sites and provide the high performance services needed by the NGI. The Abilene network is the first HPNSP. Vendors coordinate closely with the HPNSPs, through the JET and other LSN teams, to provide connectivity and advanced services to high performance network users.

Energy Sciences
Network (ESnet)

DOE's ESnet is a service-oriented production network that supports mission-oriented DOE science. It provides advanced Internet Protocol (IP) and ATM services to 30 DOE sites, including national laboratories, universities, and international partners. ESnet adopts and integrates leading-edge technologies to support DOE's mission applications and will continue to implement and enhance advanced interconnection and peering with NGI networks and other Federal research networks, as well as university networks and aggregation points (such as Gigapops) to support collaborations among DOE mission programs and university programs.
DOE conducts networking research, advanced network deployment, and advanced application support for more than 20,000 users of dozens of DOE experimental facilities and high performance computing resources. DOE's core network and network security research programs include high speed services to applications, routing and congestion control, differentiated services to applications, manageable security infrastructure and architecture, integration of services across autonomous systems and networks, network performance measurement and management, and infrastructure to support both mission science and networking R&D.

Connectivity to Alaska
and Hawaii

The JET has promoted cooperation among the Federal and university research communities for access to Hawaii and Alaska by establishing a consortium of the Federal agencies needing network connectivity to these states. The agencies have cooperatively developed and maintained high bandwidth/high performance network service to sites and facilities within both states to address agency mission requirements, significantly improving the network performance of their science and research sites.

Distributed data access

NASA, NIH, NOAA, and other agencies project huge increases in demand for data via networks over the next few years due to the launch of Earth observation satellites and projected exponential increases in demand for weather, environmental, and health data. These agencies coordinate within the JET to develop and implement improved high performance networking architecture, bandwidth, user applications, and network management.
Over the past four years, multiple NOAA sites have experienced order of magnitude increases in demand for weather and climate data by highly distributed end users. This increased demand is projected to continue over the foreseeable future. In particular, demand at its Silver Spring Metro center facility in Maryland is expected to grow from today's 150 gigabytes per day (GBpd) to more than 600 GBpd in FY 2000. To prepare for this demand, NOAA has cooperated with the other LSN agencies to implement improved high bandwidth connectivity, networking, and dissemination from its facilities. Advanced communications technologies such as ATM, as well as the latest Internet software technologies, are also being implemented at NOAA's Boulder, Colorado, facility for improved environmental data dissemination.

Experimental Program
to Stimulate Competitive
Research (EPSCoR)

NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) fosters improvements in high performance networking and network user services at the state and institutional level and helps states increase their R&D competitiveness by identifying and developing the science and technology resources at each state's major research universities.


A major objective of LSN R&D is to develop advanced applications and user services to address critical networking needs of the research community, academic and industrial users, and society in general. Each agency focuses on applications addressing its mission requirements and the development of enabling network services -- such as Quality of Service (QoS), security, multicasting, and hybrid communications -- needed to support them.

High Performance
Applications for Science
and Engineering (HPASE)

NSF supports an extensive program of research on applications that pursue fundamental knowledge in science and engineering. These applications include High Performance Applications for Science and Engineering (HPASE) that will advance computational capabilities to enable new discoveries in science and engineering. Thus, they require access to the highest performance computing systems available, interconnected by high speed networks.
In FY 1999, HPASE continued development of Earth system models and high spatial resolution meso-scale forecast models in a collaborative effort among the university community, the National center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and other Federal laboratories. By the end of FY 1999 a set of simulations covering the period from 1860 to 2300 will be available to the research community, providing examples of the changes to the Earth's climate under various anthropogenic influences. A continuous process of model improvements will be guided in part by the results from these major simulations. The model will have an increased capability to incorporate additional observation sets (for example, the NOAA Next Generation Weather Radar [NEXRAD]) into the initial conditions to improve data assimilation. Additional R&D will create a high efficiency space weather environment model.
In FY 2000 under the HPASE program, NCAR will obtain a major new supercomputing system to develop new computational techniques that allow large codes to run efficiently on the new machine. This effort will be closely coupled to ongoing activities in model development and improvement. Researchers will run new scenarios and ensembles with the community climate model to explore natural and anthropogenic effects on the climate system. These simulations will help reduce the uncertainty of current model results and explore the model's sensitivity to natural variations, such as fluctuations in solar radiance.

Weather and the

NOAA supports a program of research in advanced networking applications to make its vast environmental and weather data resources easily, quickly, and completely available to a wide range of end users. In pursuing this goal, NOAA exploits existing and developing access and information technologies including the NGI, distributed computing, the Web, collaboration, mirroring, multicast, and digital libraries. NOAA's advanced networking applications research areas include collaborative data visualization technologies over advanced networks, multicasting to disseminate weather model data output to Federal and university users, testing and evaluating security functions for a range of users including remote and mobile users, and prototyping use of technologies for improved efficiency and robustness.

China Clipper

The DOE China Clipper program will accelerate the use of applications that require substantial computing resources, involve high rate and high volume data flows, involve human interactions, and require coordination of distributed resources.

Telemedicine for
healthcare applications

LSN R&D at NIH's National Library of Medicine (NLM) supports testbed networks to link hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, medical schools, medical libraries, and universities to enable healthcare providers and researchers to share medical data and imagery and access medical literature. NLM also supports the development of collaborative network technologies to allow healthcare providers in remote locations to provide realtime treatment to patients, including technologies for visualizing human anatomy and analyzing images from X-rays, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and other diagnostic tools, as well as database technologies for storing, accessing, and transmitting patients' medical records while protecting the accuracy and privacy of those records.
Additional NLM R&D focuses on evaluating telemedicine techniques. In FY 2000, NLM will continue funding projects promoting the application of LSN technologies to healthcare, telemedicine, digital libraries, and methods of protecting the privacy of electronic health data.

Computer-based patient

The objective of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's (AHCPR's) computer-based patient record program is to improve the uniformity, accuracy, and retrievability of data about patient care in the community and promote its use for improved clinical decisions. It requires the integration of the networked information systems of healthcare providers and institutions in remote and urban areas.

Integrated Academic
Information Management
Systems (IAIMS) grants

The goal of NLM's IAIMS program is to develop, test, and implement generic information flow management systems within university health science centers and major teaching hospitals to increase research productivity, improve access to patient data for technology assessment and health outcomes research, and provide more efficient patient care and healthcare resource use. The 120-plus Academic Medical centers are comprised of health profession schools and their associated teaching and research hospitals, clinics, and laboratories. These centers need up-to-the-minute information on patient care, research, education, and administration, regularly drawing upon databases of bibliographic and factual information, molecular databases, patient records, and laboratory and clinical data.
Research funded by IAIMS grants is expected to benefit all health delivery organizations, including community hospitals and outpatient services.

Visible Human (VH)

The large size of NLM's VH image set and other medical images challenges storage and network transmission technologies. Since the full set of Visible Human images would require a capacity of more than 100 CD-ROMs -- an impractical distribution option -- NLM is investigating advanced compression and networking techniques to minimize storage capacity and improve transmission speed over the Internet.


Bioinformatics is an essential component of genome research, protein engineering, and drug design through its use of analytical and predictive methods to identify key molecular patterns associated with health and disease. NLM's National center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) focuses on automated systems to store and analyze the vast and growing volume of molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics data. Within a distributed database architecture, NCBI collects sequence data from researchers worldwide and incorporates them into GenBank, NIH's DNA sequence data bank -- a key data resource of the Human Genome Project -- to produce an integrated database system consisting of GenBank, the genetic scientific literature in Medline, taxonomy, and 3-D molecular structures. These databases are accessed daily over the Internet from more than 90,000 sites and account for more than 4 million hits per day. Basic research on efficient data analysis techniques and large scale genome analysis conducted within NCBI's Computational Biology Branch has been a key factor in gene discovery.

Agency workshops

Many LSN agencies held workshops in FY 1999 to promote progress and collaboration on advanced networking technology R&D. For these and other workshops, please see the special section on Workshops beginning on page 93.

Next Generation Internet

The Federal NGI initiative, together with the country's other networking R&D investments, is creating the foundation for the networks of the 21st century, setting the stage for networks that are much more powerful and versatile than the current Internet. Tightly coupled with the networking research and R&D infrastructure support funded under the LSN budget, the NGI is helping to build partnerships among academia, industry, and government that will keep the U.S. at the cutting edge of information and communications technologies and stimulate the introduction of new multimedia applications in our schools, businesses, and homes.

NGI Goals

The NGI initiative has three goals:

  1. Goal 1. To advance research, development, and experimentation in the next generation of networking technologies in order to add functionality and improve performance in:
    • Reliability
    • Security
    • Robustness
    • Differentiated services including multicast and audio/video -- also known as Quality of Service (QoS) and Class of Service (CoS)
    • Network management including allocation and sharing of bandwidth

  2. Goal 2. To develop two NGI testbeds for system-scale testing of advanced technologies and services and for developing and testing advanced applications:
    • A 100x testbed that will connect at least 100 NGI sites with end-to-end performance at least 100 times faster than the Internet of 1997
    • A 1000x testbed that will connect about 20 sites with end-to-end performance at least 1,000 times faster than 1997's Internet

  3. Goal 3. To develop and demonstrate revolutionary applications in enabling applications technologies such as:
    • Collaboration technologies
    • Digital libraries
    • Distributed computing
    • Privacy and security
    • Remote operation and simulation

    and disciplinary applications in:
    • Basic science
    • Crisis management
    • Education
    • The environment
    • Federal information services
    • Healthcare
    • Manufacturing
The Federal agencies participating in the NGI in FY 1999 are DARPA, NSF, DOE, NASA, NIH (NLM and NCRR), and NIST. The NGI initiative is managed by the participating agencies and coordinated by the LSN Working Group, whose teams in turn coordinate closely with experts from academia, industry, and Federal laboratories.

NGI Goal 1

NGI Goal 1 accomplishments and plans
Goal 1 activities focus on research, development, and testbed deployment and demonstration of technologies to permit the effective, robust, and secure management, provisioning, and end-to-end delivery of differentiated classes of service.

Quality of Service (QoS)

NASA has used dedicated circuits to support critical network applications such as mission control. This expensive approach results in overprovisioned networks that are idle most of the time. NASA QoS technologies offer the promise of more cost-efficient sharing of network resources, enabling select applications to receive preferential treatment when networks are congested. NASA is developing a QoS testbed between its Ames Research center in California and its Goddard Space Flight center in Maryland to test various QoS mechanisms and to determine how to achieve QoS in both low- and high-bandwidth environments.
NASA participates in the I2 QBone, an end-to-end QoS testbed to accelerate the development of interdomain quality of service. NASA's primary contributions are: 1) incorporating the NGIX-West into the I2 QBone infrastructure, providing a means of testing delivery of differentiated services over a network exchange; and 2) deploying applications on the QBone that have stringent QoS requirements and evaluating end-to-end performance of these applications to determine the efficacy of various QoS approaches. NASA is also sponsoring university research to produce end-to-end QoS by developing an interface to translate application QoS requirements into requirements for using network resources, with a focus on multimedia applications. A distributed visual tracking application, wherein a remote user tracks an object in a video stream, is being used to validate the interface.
NIST QoS research focuses on the emerging Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology, a candidate for supporting QoS on an Internet scale. NIST developed NIST Switch, a public domain prototype for research in QoS routing and signaling protocols that serves as a reference implementation to foster commercial implementations. NIST has also developed the Distributed Internet Protocol and PERformance (DIPPER) test system to enable easy testing of distributed, topology-sensitive QoS routing and signaling protocols by allowing the user to write protocol test scripts that are downloaded and executed at multiple points in a network's topology.
In FY 1999 more than 300 organizations in the Internet research and product development community adopted, developed, and released NIST QoS testing tools, including:

  • NIST Net -- a general-purpose tool to emulate performance dynamics in IP networks, allowing controlled, reproducible experiments with QoS sensitive applications and protocols

  • ISPI -- an interactive measurement tool for experiments in realtime transport and resource reservation protocols

Bandwidth Broker

NASA is sponsoring research to develop techniques for allocating bandwidth and services across network domains. A "Bandwidth Broker" based on a QoS routing technique provides detailed information about the local network and less precise data about remote networks. Such a broker can reach coarse-grained preliminary bilateral agreements within a short time and refine such agreements when more information about bandwidth, services, and prices becomes available.

DARPA NGI research

In FY 1999, DARPA contributed R&D in multi-gigabit broadband access technologies, assured service mechanisms, integrated network management, and QoS to the NGI.

Multidomain multicast

Since NASA applications increasingly involve collaboration among groups of researchers from multiple scientific disciplines at distributed and remote locations, efficient multicast has become essential. In addition, since multiple network-domain boundaries must be crossed to provide end-user-to-end-user high performance networking, the integration of services across autonomous networks is critical. A portion of NASA's NREN R&D is focused on these challenges.

Hybrid networks

NASA's R&D in hybrid networking focuses on satellite and terrestrial components to provide seamless high performance networking for end-to-end hybrid connectivity to highly distributed sites and QoS across hybrid networks.

Internet security and
mobile networks

NIST's Cerberus reference implementation of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Protocol security (IPsec) protocols was extended with the addition of PlutoPlus, NIST's prototype Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol. The integrated IPsec/IKE reference implementation provides a platform for research into Internet security systems integration. In addition, the integrated Cerberus and PlutoPlus were added to the IPsec Web-based Interoperability Tester (IPsec WIT), allowing users to execute, remotely over the Internet, more than 400 interoperability tests against an IPsec/IKE implementation that is under development.
In FY 1999, NIST began research in Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks (MANET) in partnership with DARPA. This project will produce techniques and metrics for evaluating the MANET protocols proposed to IETF and similar protocols proposed to DARPA as part of their Global Mobile program. NIST also began work on metrology for service-rich, agile Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) based access and metropolitan networks to promote technology development, interoperability, and standards and to accelerate deployment of Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) in NGI and commercial networks.

DOE's networking

In FY 1999 DOE invited proposals for research grants in three areas:

  • Research in basic networking, including technologies that allow very high speed interfaces to connect devices to networks, protocols and techniques for coordinating multiple heterogeneous network-attached devices, software to allow applications to adapt to changing network conditions, and network performance characterization

  • University networking technology testbeds that focus on developing and testing techniques and technologies to allow deployment of advanced network services across independently administered, interconnected networks

  • Network testbeds and partnerships among applications developers and network researchers that focus on integrating advanced applications with leading-edge network research to test wide area data intensive collaborative computing technologies

NGI Goal 2.1

NGI Goal 2.1 accomplishments and plans
NGI Goal 2.1 is to develop the 100x testbed that will connect at least 100 NGI sites with end-to-end performance at least 100 times faster than the Internet of 1997. The JET coordinates engineering implementations and architecture of FedNets and the Goal 2.1 testbed. The NREN, vBNS, and DREN, respectively the NASA, NSF, and DoD FedNets, are interconnected to provide the fabric for the 100x testbed. They cooperate closely with ESnet and NISN (DOE and NASA production networks) to provide end-to-end user connectivity, performance, and services.


NASA conducts network research through its NREN program. NREN, which interconnects NASA's Grand Challenge centers, is a high performance network testbed employing advanced telecommunications technologies such as ATM over SONET services, with a backbone capacity of 155 megabits per second (Mbps). Over the next several years, increases in bandwidth to 622 Mbps and beyond are anticipated.

NASA's NREN strategy is to conduct leading-edge systems engineering and applications engineering R&D and develop and demonstrate advanced applications, as illustrated in this graphic.

Next Generation Internet
Exchange Points (NGIXs)

The FedNets and Abilene interconnect at the NGIX-West, maintained by NASA's Ames Research center in California, and at the NGIX-Midwest at the Ameritech NAP in Chicago. Most FedNets plan to interconnect at NGIX-East, expected to be located in the Washington, DC, area. Network connectivity does not necessarily imply peering (that is, exchange of traffic). Peering between any two networks must be established by agreement based on each network's policies.
Cooperation among the FedNets and with Abilene, I2, and the Gigapop operators provides a coordinated advanced network architecture and engineering of network services to assure high performance end-to-end connectivity and services among users, preventing duplication of costly resources to end users, fostering innovative, cooperative approaches to remote users, and significantly improving Federal agency capabilities.

Connections Program

By the beginning of FY 1999, 131 NSF Connections Program awards resulted in:

  • 70 institutions connected to the NSF vBNS
  • 19 additional planned connections to the vBNS
  • 42 pending connections to the vBNS, Abilene, or another HPNSP
By the end of FY 1999, NSF will have made 150 awards for high performance connections to the vBNS and other high performance networking testbeds. In FY 2000, additional NSF connections awards and connections to NASA, NIH, and NOAA sites are expected to result in more than 150 institutions connected to the 100x testbed, which significantly exceeds NGI Goal 2.1. Since its cooperative vBNS agreement with MCI concludes in March of 2000, NSF will initiate a plan for the post-vBNS cooperative agreement era.

NSF coordination
with universities and
research institutions

The University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) fosters university development of high performance networking. It promoted the development of Gigapops for university and research institutions in local or metropolitan areas. In FY 1999, the Abilene network, in coordination with UCAID, began providing high performance backbone network service among the Gigapops. Abilene, and any other qualifying high performance network service providers that can help support NSF high performance networking research.

NGI Goal 2.2

NGI Goal 2.2 accomplishments and plans
Goal 2.2 technologies address ultrahigh speed switching and transmission technologies and the demonstration of end-to-end connectivity at speeds over one Gbps. DARPA leads this multiagency effort, with participation by NSF, DOE, NASA, and other Federal agencies.


DARPA is deploying SuperNet, which is expected to provide 10 to 100 Gbps speeds in FY 1999-FY 2000. Other NGI networks and programs coordinate with SuperNet to provide end user connectivity, applications, and user feedback. In FY 2000, DARPA will continue developing technologies such as optical Add-Drop Multiplexers (ADMs), improved I/O devices, and innovative network architecture and management software, and will encourage use of the network to demonstrate innovative high performance technologies and applications.
SuperNet will provide a testbed using the resources of some existing research testbeds and developing additional component testbeds, including NTON, HSCC, ONRAMP, BOSSNET, and MONET/ATDNET. These testbeds will be implemented with gigabit access technologies, IP over WDM, and innovative network engineering management and modeling. SuperNet has demonstrated QoS negotiation over wide area ATM networks, a baseline QoS architecture for the full network, operating system kernel adaptation tools, and mechanisms to achieve a factor of three to five reduction in communications overhead. Other SuperNet milestones include simulating WDM transmission in WANs and developing cascaded transparent optical ADMs and amplifiers.

Test and evaluation

NIST supports the U.S. information technology industry by testing and evaluating new NGI networking and infrastructure technologies at all stages of development and by fostering their rapid commercialization and deployment. Advances in measurement and testing technology will enable rapid evaluation of research designs and prototypes and will facilitate the transfer of new technology to the NGI Goal 2 testbeds and to the communications industry. The goal is for test and instrumentation technologies to become part of the protocol design and specification process and be integrated into the implementation and deployment of the network itself.

NGI Goal 3

NGI Goal 3 accomplishments and plans
NGI Goal 3 is to develop and demonstrate revolutionary applications, some of which are described in the following sections. Successful applications and technologies are being transitioned to the Federal agency operational networks and to the public domain for commercialization.

SC98 demonstrations

The HPNAT supported eleven demonstrations of NGI applications at SC98, held in November, 1998, in Orlando, Florida, including:

  • NSF:  science and engineering applications
  • DARPA:  Innovative data search and language processing
  • NIH:  Biomedical applications including telemedicine and data access
  • NIST:  Remote manufacturing, QoS, and Internet security
  • NASA:  Data visualization, and aeronautics and space applications.
A detailed description of these SC98 demonstrations begins on page 51.

Aeronautics and space

NREN collaborates closely with NASA programs including Earth Sciences, NASA centers, and other Federal agencies such as the FAA to identify networking research needs. Through its systems engineering and applications engineering (for example, hybrid systems/high bandwidth/enhanced network services for the space station), NREN helps develop and demonstrate revolutionary applications.
In FY 2000, NASA plans to demonstrate a 500 times end-to-end performance improvement of several Grand Challenge mission applications over FY 1996 performance measurements across the NREN testbed (a 622 Mbps and greater wide area network). Revolutionary NREN applications include:

  • Establishing a virtual institute model for scientists collaborating with each other and interacting with their data and models in real time. NREN is working with the new Astrobiology Institute, a partnership among NASA and academic and research organizations, to conduct interdisciplinary research in astrobiology. The Institute's focus on life in the universe brings together geographically dispersed laboratories and teams of astronomers, chemists, physicists, geologists, biologists, and exobiologists to operate as a virtual institute linked by a high performance Internet.

  • Prototyping a geographically distributed heterogeneous information and computational capability to be known as the Computational Aerosciences Information Sciences Power Grid.

  • Demonstrating realtime and post-mortem access by distributed engineering and operations teams to high-definition cameras and sensors to support space launches and missions. NREN seeks to expand the capabilities of the Kennedy Space center's Checkout and Launch Control System (CLCS) by adapting QoS and multicast technology to enable WAN realtime interactive access to multiple video streams.

  • Proving ubiquity of information flow by leveraging LEO constellations of networking satellites connecting virtually every site and mobile platform on Earth, and Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) networking satellites that enable low-cost multicast distribution of data services to teams, aircraft, spacecraft, and communities worldwide.

  • Prototyping remote visualization and manipulation of extreme environments and hypothetical worlds in virtual reality settings. Currently, NREN supports the ESS "Turbulent Convection and Dynamos in Stars," which will model turbulent flow in stars at three sites, each with a different data set; and the virtual Distributed Online Clinic (vDOC), which will display time correlated 3-D anatomical images at five sites in real time for remote manipulation, diagnosis, and treatment. Delay constraints are crucial to provide the performance guarantees required by the teleconferencing and video distribution portions of the application. These projects involve high bandwidth, realtime reliable multicast and are expected to provide insight into techniques for supporting multiple applications running concurrently over an enhanced network services environment.

Environmental data

NOAA plans to expand its NGI network connections to enable advanced data aggregation, dissemination, collaboration, and computing applications. NOAA is also exploiting World Wide Web (WWW) software technologies to implement advanced visualization of NOAA environmental information on the Web.

Medical Connections

NLM is demonstrating the use of the NGI for health and medicine related applications. The program spans telepresence, tele-immersion, teletrauma, telemammography, internetworking, and nomadic computing, and is intended to improve the cost, quality, usability, efficacy, and security of healthcare, health education, and health research systems. It is designed to lead to new applications based on the ability to control, feel, and manipulate devices at a distance, and is expected to enable the transfer of massive amounts of data accurately, securely, and almost instantaneously, by providing virtually error-free service, security and medical data privacy, network management, and infrastructure for collaboratories.

Applications linking
major scientific

DOE's NGI research program is focused on discovering, understanding, developing, testing, and validating the networking technologies needed to enable wide area, data intensive, and collaborative computing that is not currently possible. This program will integrate scientists working on fundamental research in applied mathematics, computer science, and networking with scientists working on DOE applications to develop new ways to link scientists with DOE's major scientific user facilities and computational centers. Such research is needed to enable effective use of petabyte/year facilities such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, to provide remote visualization of terabyte to petabye data sets from computational simulation, to develop advanced collaboratories, and to enable effective remote access to tomorrow's advanced scientific computers. These applications involve extremely large data sets and require that scientists be able to interact with the data in (nearly) real time.

NGI logo

The NGI R&D initiative links Federal agencies with academic and industry partners -- private sector entities that receive NGI agency funding or who contribute cooperatively to the NGI program. For example, the vBNS component of the 100x testbed is funded cooperatively by NSF and MCI, the 100x testbed cooperates with university Gigapop operators to provide high performance network connectivity and end-to-end user services, and Cisco participates in NREN's QoS testbed. To foster awareness of the NGI initiative and to promote such cooperative programs, LSN plans to offer the use of the NGI logo by approved NGI partners.