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I2-NEWS: New Class of National Networking Infrastructure Launched to Support Cutting-Edge Research and Experimentation

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  • From: Michelle Pollak <>
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  • Subject: I2-NEWS: New Class of National Networking Infrastructure Launched to Support Cutting-Edge Research and Experimentation
  • Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 08:37:06 -0400


National LambdaRail, Inc. Puts Promise of Experimental Network Infrastructure in Hands of Nation’s Scientists and Researchers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 16, 2003 – National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR), a consortium of leading U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies, today announced it is deploying a new and unique national networking infrastructure to foster the concurrent advancement of networking research and next generation network-based applications in science, engineering and medicine.  NLR aims to reenergize innovative research and development into next generation network technologies, protocols, services and applications.

“National LambdaRail is an important development by the community.  It will contribute to the cyberinfrastructure that is critical to progress in every field of science and engineering,” said Peter Freeman, Assistant Director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation.  “We are very pleased because this can lead to significantly expanded access for many researchers and educators to computational, analytical and visualization tools, as well as large data repositories.  This will help create new scientific opportunities across the frontier.”

NLR is probably the most ambitious research and education networking initiative since the ARPANET and the NSFnet, both of which led to the commercialization of the Internet.  In the spirit of these great success stories, NLR strives to again stimulate and support innovative network research to go above and beyond the current incremental evolution of the Internet.  The results of such endeavors are expected to facilitate further commercial development and creation of new technologies and markets, thereby stimulating economic development and contributing to U.S. national competitiveness.

The new infrastructure provides a wide range of facilities, capabilities and services in support of both application level and networking level experiments.  NLR serves a diverse set of communities including computational scientists, distributed systems researchers and networking researchers.  An explicit goal of NLR is to bring these communities closer together to solve complex architectural and end-to-end network scaling challenges.  The unprecedented richness and flexibility of this unique optical and IP infrastructure, combined with robust technical support services, allow multiple concurrent large-scale networking research and application experiments to coexist on the same infrastructure.  This will enable network researchers to deploy and control their own dedicated testbeds with full visibility and access to underlying switching and transmission fabric.

“Integral to NLR is each member’s commitment to further improve end-to-end network performance by providing dedicated optical capabilities from campus research labs to integrate seamlessly with NLR,” said Tracy Futhey, Chair of NLR Board of Directors and Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Duke University.  “We will work closely with the growing set of regional and enterprise optical networking initiatives to deliver NLR capabilities to university campuses and into researchers’ laboratories.  We hope to spur the development of other such efforts around the country.”

For the first time, the research community has acquired a national dark fiber footprint that can concurrently support network research at the optical, switching, routing, middleware, and application layers.  NLR is lighting the first fiber pair with an optical Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) network capable of transmitting up to 40 simultaneous light wavelengths (‘lambdas’ or ‘waves’) each at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).

NLR is also deploying a switched Ethernet network and a routed IP network over the optical DWDM network.  Combined, these networks enable the allocation of independent, dedicated, deterministic ultra-high performance network services to applications, groups, networked scientific apparatus and instruments, and research projects.  The optical waves enable building networking research testbeds at switching and routing layers with ability to re-direct real user traffic over them for testing purposes.  For optical layer research testbeds additional dark fiber pairs are available on the national footprint.

NLR is the first national scale network to deploy transcontinental ‘circuits’ based upon 10 Gbps Ethernet (LAN PHY) technologies end-to-end, which are widely used in enterprise, institutional and home networks.  This inclusion of Ethernet standards based facilities in NLR represents a generational shift in the nature, usability and cost of technologies in backbone networks.  NLR is expected to enable a new generation of pervasive high performance cyber infrastructure for science and research which will eventually migrate to enterprise and industry use.

Critical to this unique effort is the participation of Cisco Systems, Inc.  As the key provider of equipment to NLR and a proponent of its research objectives, Cisco technologies, including optical DWDM multiplexers, Ethernet switches and IP routers are being used for deployment of the infrastructure.

“National LambdaRail is a unique concept for advanced networking research,” said Mario Mazzola, Chief Development Officer for Cisco Systems.  “It is not only a unique network infrastructure and tool, but it is also a virtual laboratory for its partners and will concurrently support innovative research at all layers of the network, as well as next generation applications.  As such, it will be a useful tool in developing new capabilities for future critical and cyber infrastructures.”

NLR is currently seeking additional complementary corporate participation as well as collaboration with federal research agencies in support of their sponsored research projects to achieve a broad impact within the research and education community.

Current NLR members and associates include:

+ Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, CENIC (
+ Pacific Northwest GigaPop, PNWGP (
+ Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (
+ Duke University (, representing a coalition of North Carolina Universities
+ Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership, MATP and the Virginia Tech Foundation (
+ Cisco Systems (
+ Internet2(R) (
+ Florida LambdaRail, LLC (
+ Georgia Institute of Technology (
+ Committee on Institutional Cooperation, CIC (

Pending NLR members include:

+ Texas Universities Consortium

# # #

About National LambdaRail
National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR) is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies to provide a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications.  NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation’s scientists and researchers.  Visit for more information.

Tom West
NLR, Inc.

  • I2-NEWS: New Class of National Networking Infrastructure Launched to Support Cutting-Edge Research and Experimentation, Michelle Pollak, 09/16/2003

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