Internet2 launches virtual Internet network architecture

The Internet2 community has unveiled what it calls "a fundamental advance in network architecture": adding a virtualized network capability that lets research and education (R&E) organizations define their own private programmable networks on the Internet2 fiber-optic network via software-defined networking (SDN).

The Internet2 community has unveiled what it calls "a fundamental advance in network architecture": adding a virtualized network capability that lets research and education (R&E) organizations define their own private programmable networks on the Internet2 fiber-optic network via software-defined networking (SDN).

Virtualization will enable multiple applications to access the scale and innovations of the Internet2 network in isolated "slices," which the organization says will remove the barriers of building and operating individual physical network infrastructures.

This advanced capability is enabled by the architecture innovations built into the Internet2 network—which the group asserts is the first 100G open, nationwide, SDN—combining network hardware and software resources into a single, software-controlled network.

A new piece of software, called "FlowSpace Firewall" has been installed in the Internet2 production network that allows slices of OpenFlow capabilities to be partitioned across nearly forty 100G-attached access nodes throughout the country. In essence, this new software protects each network slice from overconsumption of resources by other slices. This first-in-class capability is now available to support the work of the R&E community’s data-intensive science and academic operations.

Two $10 million projects were recently awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will use the new capability. Chameleon and CloudLab will enable the academic and research communities to experiment with advanced cloud computing architectures that can support a new generation of applications—including real-time and safety-critical applications like those used in medical devices, power grids, and transportation systems.

"By connecting CloudLab to Internet2's nationwide SDN network, we can give researchers a level of end-to-end network programmability that is unprecedented in a cloud platform," said Robert Ricci, a research assistant professor of computer science at the University of Utah and principal investigator of CloudLab. "Having this level of control, programmability, and visibility into the network will enable the research community to push the boundaries of cloud networking and explore the future of network architectures for the cloud."

Internet2 expects many more users to capitalize on the ease for provisioning and operating networks, allowing local network operators to extend their reach across a global architecture and enabling entirely new test-bed capabilities through these secure and discrete virtualized networks. These new capabilities provide substantial support for the development of new applications to catalyze research collaboration, accelerate discovery, and create new scientific and technological innovations, Internet2 asserts.

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