Senior higher education executives announced on Wednesday that they will use the nation's fastest coast-to-coast network to implement new technologies that supports scientific "Big Data" and cloud applications to drive innovation in global collaborative research.
The intent is to strengthen the nation’s position as a global leader in research and education for decades to come and at the same time help control higher education costs.
The technologies bundled in the Internet2 Network create the first open, national-scale testbed of revolutionary Software Defined Networking (SDN) and OpenFlow standards, combined with the abundant bandwidth of the world’s first transcontinental network deployment of 100G technology. These unique, disruptive technologies are key components of the Internet2 Innovation Platform.
“Across the nation sectors such as health care, agriculture, and engineering — in conjunction with research and economic development efforts — produce enormous volumes of data,” said Pankaj Shah, executive director of OARnet, which is one of 10 organizations announcing their intent to pilot the Internet2 Innovation Platform technologies. “By connecting to Internet2’s 100 Gigabit per second platform, Ohio's and the other organizations' ability to analyze this data and collaborate globally increases exponentially.”
Along with OARnet, Clemson University, Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Georgia Tech, Indiana University, The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and regional networks including I-Light (Indiana) and Southern-Crossroads (SOX) announced their intent to pilot the Internet2 Innovation Platform technologies.
Though the Internet2 community has been experimenting with SDN and 100G technologies for some time, the need for the combination of these advanced technologies into a unified set of solutions that universities can implement is just in time, according to Clemson University CIO Jim Bottum.
“We are at a crossroads in terms of network innovation,” Bottum said. “The commercial sector is reaching a maturity level where incremental changes are the norm. The research and education communities have always been the change agent for new networking innovation and at this time it is more important than ever that we lead this effort. We need to reinvigorate our community and move to support all aspects — production, research and education.”
Policy and industry leaders are also beginning to recognize the power of these technologies. Last week, Google publicly embraced SDN and OpenFlow at the Open Networking Summit. Urs Hölzle, senior vice president, technical infrastructure for Google called the idea behind these advances, “the most significant change in networking in the entire lifetime of Google.”
Further, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” to accelerate the pace of discovery in research and transform teaching and learning. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a co-sponsoring department of the solicitation, and the NSF-funded GENI program has been a long-time advocate for SDN to support experimental networks.
Chip Elliot, project director for the GENI Project Office (GPO) stated, "The combination of research and education, business, and policy leaders recognizing and implementing the power of these new technologies is the spark needed for the next generation of innovative applications to flourish.”
Researchers studying clean energy, climate change, cancer cures, astronomy, high-energy physics and other important global sciences have urgent needs to reliably and securely exchange “Big Data” produced by their experiments at the press of a button, instead of shipping physical data storage media across the country and the world.
Equally important are more efficient, better-yielding technology solutions for university business functions in efforts to reduce higher education costs. The Internet2 Innovation Platform technologies provide solutions for secure and reliable data transmissions into a cloud environment and support for the exploding use of bandwidth-consuming multimedia in modern education delivery, among other applications university leaders can use to transform higher education models.
“The research and education community has played a seminal role in the creation of the modern Internet and the applications that have made it one of the most transformative technologies of our lifetime,” said Dave Lambert, Internet2 President and CEO. “The Internet we know today and the new global markets it created are largely the result of early investments by university network leaders. Getting these revolutionary technologies in the hands of Internet2 community members will have positive and fundamentally transformative effects on research and education – the lynchpins of the global economy.”