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GLIF Meeting Attracts 60 Leaders in Advanced Networking, Scientific Applications

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  • From: "Laura K. Wolf" <>
  • To: <>
  • Subject: GLIF Meeting Attracts 60 Leaders in Advanced Networking, Scientific Applications
  • Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2004 14:44:43 -0500
  • Organization: EVL/STRC

Global Lambda Integrated Facility Annual Meeting Attracts 60 Leaders in
Advanced Networking and Scientific Applications

Maxine Brown, University of Illinois at Chicago,

Cees de Laat, University of Amsterdam,

Karel Vietsch, TERENA,

September 22, 2004 -- The first week of September signifies the end of
summer, but this year it also marked the start of a major global alliance to
build the LambdaGrid, aptly named the Global Lambda Integrated Facility
(GLIF). Network leadership, notably the managers and chief engineers of
national research and education networks, countries, consortia and
institutions, along with application scientists and industrial R&D
representatives from all over the world, totaling 60 people, converged in
Nottingham, England, September 2-3, for a two-day workshop to self-organize
GLIF. The GLIF Workshop was chaired by Kees Neggers, managing director of
SURFnet in the Netherlands, hosted by the United Kingdom’s research and
education network UKERNA, and organized by Cees de Laat of University of
Amsterdam and Maxine Brown of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Since 2001, a small international group of network managers, network
engineers, application scientists and middleware developers have been
meeting annually to discuss the development of optical networks and the
Global LambdaGrid. “At its 2003 meeting, this group gave itself the GLIF
name, realizing that its informal partnership had, over the years, grown
into a virtual facility in support of persistent data-intensive scientific
research and middleware development on LambdaGrids,” said Kees Neggers, who
initiated and has chaired these annual meetings. This year attendance
doubled in size, with broader global representation than previous years,
marking a significant advance in global infrastructure development.

Today’s optical networks, using Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) technology,
encode data on individual wavelengths of light (or “lambdas”); these
wavelengths then carry data in parallel through fiber. A LambdaGrid, based
on multiple lambdas, is an extension of the grid, where the bandwidth itself
is a schedulable resource. Just as the grid enables scientists to schedule
computer processing time or remote instrumentation usage, so does the
LambdaGrid provide network guarantees for such characteristics as bandwidth,
latency and jitter. “These guarantees are necessary for applications that
require large data transfers, control of remote instrumentation, and
real-time data analysis, visualization and collaboration. Deterministic
end-to-end network performance is important for real-time or time-critical
applications, which cannot be achieved on today’s grids,” explained GLIF
co-founder Tom DeFanti.

In 2004, as the cost of transoceanic bandwidth continues to be more
affordable, a large number of research and education networks find they have
additional capacity they are willing to make available for use by
application scientists, computer scientists and engineers. GLIF provides a
framework in which to collaborate with colleagues worldwide to build the
Global LambdaGrid in support of e-science. Science has no geographic
boundaries. All science is global.

“GLIF is an open community, and everyone who contributes can join. GLIF
doesn’t have members; it has participants. GLIF is not about control, but
about introducing lambda networking as a commodity infrastructure to the
scientists it supports,” explained Kees Neggers, who also serves as head of
the GLIF Governance Working Group. “Users gain access to GLIF resources by
going to their network providers. The websites of these providers need to
document what resources are available. GLIF glues together the networks of
its participants; GLIF itself is not a network and does not compete with any
existing network.”

This glue is handled by the Engineering Working Group, headed by Erik-Jan
Bos of SURFnet. Network engineers spent the first half of the GLIF Workshop
describing their respective countries’ networks and how they were
configured, in order to create an informative international network map.
Discussion then turned to defining the types of links and the
minimum/maximum configurations of Optical Exchange facilities in order to
assure the interoperability and interconnectivity of participating networks.
“Our goal is to produce a ‘GLIF Best Current Practices’ document by the SC
2004 conference,” said Bos. “We need to provide answers to such questions
as: What does it mean to connect to GLIF? What does it mean to bring
equipment to GLIF?”

Because one needs infrastructure in place before applications can start
using the LambdaGrid, this year’s GLIF meeting was heavily attended by
networking decision-makers and engineers. However, GLIF also has an
Applications Working Group, headed by Peter Clarke of University of
Edinburgh and University College London. The super-users who provide the
application drivers for GLIF are known, and will demonstrate their science
experiments at the upcoming SC 2004 conference in November in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, and at next year’s iGrid 2005 event, to be held in September
in San Diego. Clarke, however, expressed his desire to broaden usage. “To
grow the GLIF community, we need to go beyond the usual suspects and find
new e-science drivers, and to move scientific experiments into production
usage as they begin to mature,” said Clarke. “It is also important to
document GLIF applications on the web, to educate other scientists, as well
as funding agencies.”

The GLIF Control Plane and Grid Integration Middleware Working Group is the
only group that did not meet in Nottingham. The main players in this field
already meet regularly in conjunction with other projects, notably the
NSF-funded OptIPuter and MCNC Controlplane initiatives. De Laat, a GLIF
organizer and participant, said, “The GLIF can only function if we agree on
the interfaces and protocols that talk to each other on the control planes
of the contributed Lambda resources.”

Bill St. Arnaud, a GLIF co-founder and visionary who predicted the growth of
optical networks in the late 1990's, summed up GLIF’s mission.
“Customer-empowered LambdaGrids may become the basis for the wired Internet
infrastructure underlying future e-science, education, emergency services,
health services and commerce. This is an opportune time for the
international networking community to scale up research related to novel
methods of exploiting these innovations in networked e-science applications.
Perfected techniques may eventually allow commercial providers to offer
profitable services and enable new customer applications, which may
revitalize the software and services industries by taking ‘broadband’ into a
new mass market.”

This year’s meeting attracted high-level managers and engineers from
Australia’s Research and Education Network (AARNet), CANARIE (Canada), CERN,
CESNET (Czech Republic), Chinese Academy of Science, DANTE/GÉANT (Europe),
the European Commission, HEAnet (Ireland), Japan Gigabit Network 2 (JGN-II),
Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI)/KREONet2,
National Center for High Performance Computing (NCHC, Taiwan), National
Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST, Japan),
NORDUnet (Nordic countries), SURFnet/NetherLight (The Netherlands),
Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA,
Europe), the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), UKERNA/UKLight
(United Kingdom), and WIDE (Japan). From the USA, there were representatives
from National LambdaRail, Internet2, DoE ESnet, TeraGrid, Illinois’ I-WIRE
dark fiber initiative, California’s CENIC network, the National Science
Foundation’s (NSF) StarLight, the NSF High Performance International
Internet Services awardees (Euro-Link, TransPAC, GLORIAD and AMPATH), major
GigaPoPs (Pacific Northwest GigaPoP and Pacific Wave, Midwest’s MREN, the
east coast’s Mid-Atlantic Crossroads [MAX]), the Internet Educational Equal
Access Foundation (IEEAF), SURA, and major universities and government

UKERNA was pleased to host this year’s GLIF meeting. The 2003 meeting was
hosted by NORDUnet in Reykjavik, Iceland; the 2002 meeting was hosted by the
Amsterdam Science & Technology Centre in conjunction with iGrid 2002; and,
the 2001 meeting was hosted by TERENA in Amsterdam. This year a closing
reception was hosted by the ON*VECTOR project, a collaboration of NTT
Network Innovation Laboratories, University of Tokyo’s Aoyama/Morikawa
Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization
Laboratory, and Pacific Interface, Inc.

Given the tremendous international interest in building the LambdaGrid, the
future of GLIF seems assured. It was agreed that TERENA would provide GLIF
secretariat support, to begin in the near future. The next GLIF meeting was
announced, to be hosted by Larry Smarr of the California Institute for
Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)2] in conjunction
with the iGrid 2005 conference at the University of California, San Diego
next September. The offer from Professors Jun Murai of Keio University and
the WIDE Project and Tomonori Aoyama of University of Tokyo and JGN-II to
host the meeting in 2006 was accepted. To date, these Workshops have been
invitation only, though this may change as participation grows. For more
information, see <>.


About GLIF
GLIF is a collaboration of institutions, organizations, consortia and
country National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) who voluntarily
share optical networking resources and expertise for the advancement of
scientific collaboration and discovery. GLIF’s mission is to create and
sustain a Global Facility that supports leading-edge capabilities based on
new and emerging technologies and paradigms related to advanced optical
networking. These capabilities will enable high-performance applications and
services, including the timely transfer of massive amounts of data,
distributed computing, data analysis, collaboration and visualization, and
control of remote instruments. GLIF provides leadership in advanced
technologies and pre-production services on behalf of NRENs, NREN consortia,
or pan-continental R&E networks, creating new models that they can
implement. Once such services are available from NREN consortia, GLIF will
refocus on new emerging paradigms to support its communities. For more
information, see <>.

  • GLIF Meeting Attracts 60 Leaders in Advanced Networking, Scientific Applications, Laura K. Wolf, 09/22/2004

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