Behind the scenes of Internet2

New network operations manager excited about Dynamic Circuit Network, multicast and IPv6

You might think the network you oversee is big, but consider Chris Robb's new job: network operations manager for Internet2, which in October announced completion of a new research and education network boasting initial capacity of 100Gbps nationwide. Robb takes on his new position as an assigned staff member from the Global Research Network Operations Center (GRNOC) at Indiana University. Network World Editor Bob Brown interviewed Robb by e-mail to get an idea of what lies ahead for him and Internet2.

You'll be responsible for day-to-day operations of the nationwide Internet2 Network infrastructure. That sounds daunting. Give me a sense of what sorts of network gear you are actually responsible for and what you expect to be doing day to day.

The new Internet2 Network is really an evolution from Internet2's former Abilene IP network which was officially decommissioned in Fall 2007 when we completed the buildout of a completely different nationwide infrastructure in partnership with Level 3 Communications. The new network is what we call a 'hybrid.' Originally envisioned by the research and education advanced networking community, hybrid networks combine the best of IP and optical networking and allow users to dynamically set up circuits as their applications demand.

On the IP network, members connect via distinct optical wavelengths, deterministic SONET-based 'lightpaths,' or via the common-bearer IP service. We continue to use the Juniper T640 platform to provide IP services. They've provided rock solid performance with expansion room to help us support other IP-based services like our new Commodity Peering Service.

The optical network, which is built on the Infinera Digital Transport Chassis, is unique in its management model. Level 3 has responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of the optical equipment (replacing cards, monitoring Layer 1 network health), but Internet2 has direct control over provisioning circuits across the network via our Network Operations Center. This allows the NOC to focus on our core mission of controlling and maintaining the network.

The Dynamic Circuit Network is still in its infancy. The overall idea is that a user can request an end-to-end circuit between two points on the network, and plumb a path that's unique to their project.

Because this is a new technical platform as well as a brand new way of operating a network, it has required some new thinking by our NOC in terms of monitoring and coordination. It's no longer the case that you can always just troubleshoot just your piece of the network cloud. Because each circuit can cross multiple network provider domains, much more metadata and coordination is required in resolving network issues from end to end.

Today, setting up large inter-domain circuits can be very labor intensive with coordination across multiple providers, across countries. One of our immediate goals is to implement an automated system that creates all the monitoring hooks that are needed for network operators to troubleshoot in minutes or less. It's a challenging task, but certainly one that has a lot of eyes on it right now.

Can you elaborate on the Dynamic Circuit Network and IP network?

The Dynamic Circuit Network is a circuit-based network cloud that is directly driven by our users. The closest analogy is the phone system. We provide the transport and the tools to make a "phone call" (i.e. create the dedicated circuit connection) without the day-to-day assistance of a network engineer. In the future, through the use of a new Web-based interface, users will be able to reserve their bandwidth for a set period of time, transfer their data using their protocol of choice, and then "hang-up" the circuit for the next researcher to use. It's a Ciena CoreDirector-based network, so the underlying transport is SONET. Our demarcation to domestic users is vanilla Ethernet, so it meshes well with most current campus networks.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bob Brown

Network World

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?