[CENIC Today -- May 3 2010, Volume 13 Issue 4]
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US & World Networking News:
  • CSUS receives federal funding for 'smart grid' training program
  • Internet2 Richard Rose Award Honors David Lassner for Exemplary Contributions to Advanced Networking in Support of K20 Community
  • GENI's Cluster D Research Centers Interconnected by National LambdaRail
  • Bill would help with community college transfers to CSU
  • Google Apps could save Oregon schools $1.5M
  • Opinion: Africa Grid?


President's Message: Higher Education and the National Broadband Plan

[Picture of Jim Dolgonas]

CENIC Today readership will remember that the development of the FCC's National Broadband Plan has been followed in this column with articles both in December 2009 and February 2010. With the release of the Plan in March, I wanted to provide a further update on this important document and its recommendations. The Executive Summary, which I read shortly after the Plan's issuance, does a reasonable job of highlighting important points, but there are some issues of more importance to the CENIC community which are best examined by reading the entire 360-page report, which I've finally managed to accomplish.

Before delving into some issues of particular importance to the CENIC community, I should probably provide my impression of the entire Plan. Overall, I'd have to give it good marks. It recognizes shortcomings in current broadband deployment, acknowledges that certain policies and programs are not well aligned with current needs (for example, programs that subsidize the provision of voice but not data service to high-cost areas), and outlines shifts in funding and sale of spectrum as potential resources rather than new congressional appropriations for funding. Given President Obama's intent to constrain growth in the Federal budget to several limited areas, not anticipating new Federal funding and instead proposing alternate sources seems appropriate.

Looking at the Plan from the parochial viewpoint of CENIC and its members, however, the picture is not quite as positive. Though there is talk about Universal Service Fund (USF) reform, not mentioned is the inclusion of the Community Colleges in the discounts available from the USF's E-Rate program, a change CENIC has advocated for. Similarly, most of the references to education seem focused on K-12, almost not recognizing that colleges and universities also provide education -- and an increasingly necessary education in a nation that hopes to be in the forefront of the modern technological revolution.

Moreover, attention paid to research universities continues to be brief. There is recognition of Federal funding as an ingredient leading to the Internet, but all discussion of research is limited to five pages of the entire Plan. There is some limited recognition of regional/state networks, and of Internet2 and NLR, and suggestion that these networks could serve to provide networking to all anchor tenants (schools, colleges, libraries, public safety, and health care), but not much substance nor realism in how that might be accomplished.

My somewhat optimistic caution about the Plan in terms of CENIC members and CENIC should not result in our throwing up our hands, however. I believe implementation of the Plan will move forward and in positive ways. The FCC has announced plans to issue more than sixty Requests for Comments. CENIC and its members must develop positions on these papers and advocate for our positions through the various bodies and entities in which all members and CENIC participate. Only in this way can we help assure that the Plan addresses the needs of the research and education community in California.

CalREN Update: Network Projects and Activities

Last month, CENIC Today readers learned that the first of several 10 Gb/s connections for some K-12 sites was tested and readied for production traffic for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Readers will be pleased to learn that the second 10 Gb/s connection to the San Diego County Office of Education was tested this month and also readied for production traffic. Updates about further 10 Gb/s connections will be forthcoming, so keep your eye on future issues!

California's Community Colleges also received new circuits during the month of April when West Hills Community College District (encompassing the West Hills Lemoore and Coalinga campuses) received a new Gigabit connection to CalREN. A new DS-3 circuit to the Glendale Community College District's Office Skills Center was also tested and is ready for production traffic.

The University of California also saw much activity this month as UC Berkeley's connection to the high-performance research (HPR) tier of CalREN was upgraded to 10 Gb/s and their connection to the daily-use Digital California (DC) tier of CalREN was upgraded to two 1 Gb/s links. The UC Office of the President also received a 10 Gb/s connection to CalREN, and UC San Diego was upgraded to two 10 Gb/s connections to CalREN-HPR at the Los Angeles backbone node, as well as an upgraded 10 Gb/s link to the backbone node at Riverside.

Finally, CENIC Associate Chapman University's connection to CalREN was upgraded to a 500 Mb/s connection.

CalREN Boosts Research-Heavy California Cities to Top of the List for Internet Connection Speed Worldwide

With the release of the latest State of the Internet report from Akamai, the verdict is in: California research and education networking has helped to put three California cities at the top of the worldwide list for connection speed and unique IP counts. Berkeley, CA is the speediest city on Earth for Internet connections, and the number 3 spot is held by Stanford, CA. (In second place is Chapel Hill, NC.) Taking unique IP counts as the benchmark as opposed to connection speed, San Diego, CA comes up as number two behind New York.

Both Berkeley and Stanford are of course homes to two of the top research universities in the world, UC Berkeley and Stanford University, while San Diego is home to another such mecca for research and education, UC San Diego. All three universities, along with the rest of California's K-20 public research and education community, are members of the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), a nonprofit corporation created in 1997 by that community to enable it to benefit from high-performance networking.

[Picture of US Map NEtworking]

On behalf of that community, CENIC owns and operates the ultra-high-performance California Research & Education Network (CalREN), which provides a high-performance, fiber-optic-based network path between California researchers and educators and connects to networks worldwide, enabling California's researchers and educators to collaborate with colleagues almost anywhere in the world. Institutions connected to CalREN as members of CENIC include all ten campuses of the University of California, Caltech, Stanford, the University of Southern California, all 23 campuses of the California State University, all 112 campuses of the California Community College system, and nearly the entire California K-12 system. Members also include many other prestigious research universities and research organizations, including the Naval Postgraduate School, University of San Francisco, Pepperdine University, Chapman University, and the University of San Diego. Thanks to CalREN, these institutions create daily innovations in the sciences, arts, humanities, and teaching and learning at levels previously considered science fiction.

Given that all of the top ten cities for connection speed are associated with strong research and higher education presences, the positive effect for any area of having a high-quality research university nearby is quite clear, especially when that university is connected to an ultra-high-performance network like CENIC's CalREN. This effect is noted explicitly in the Akamai report released on April 21, 2010, which states that, "[in the 2009 third quarter report] it was noted that many of the top cities listed for the United States had one or more colleges/universities within, or close to, the city. [T]he results once again show […] that so-called "college towns" (cities) are some of the best connected in the United States," more so than even otherwise extremely highly-connected metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. The report went on to speculate that in such areas, "the speed of local consumer broadband offerings is potentially higher than average."

The report's list of most highly-connected cities does, however, indicate that a nearby university can drive demand and growth of broadband beyond the campus in relatively well-developed areas. In remote and underserved areas, though, the advanced level of connectivity enjoyed by a nearby educational institution is less likely to spread beyond the campus. This reinforces the need for continued investment in broadband infrastructure in rural and remote areas and a National Broadband Plan such as that recently published by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that the benefits of broadband are available to all citizens regardless of where they live.

"Data seem to support the conclusion that high speed networking for advanced research and education can help drive the availability of higher-performance consumer telecommunications services, but this seems to be more the case in urban areas than rural or other underserved areas, pointing to the need for subsidies of some sort being required in these areas," says CENIC President & CEO Jim Dolgonas.

The State of the Internet for the fourth quarter of 2009 can be downloaded with a free registration from Akamai's website at http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/.

Bird's Eye View on CalREN: A Look at Network-Wide Projects

[DWDM Subway-style Backbone Map] In the Network Projects & Activities section of CENIC Today, CENIC tends most often to report on new and upgraded Associate connections to the CalREN backbone. But while Associates are understandably most focused on their site or institution's connectivity to CalREN, CENIC is always hard at work on the CalREN backbone itself.

For example, the CalREN Optical Refresh consists of replacing the end-of-life optical equipment underlying all three tiers of the CalREN network with newer equipment that reduces previous limitations on the number and type of circuits that could be provisioned between various points within the backbone network. This Project has been proceeding, with use of the new equipment in production and removal of all legacy optical equipment removed from the Southern, Coastal, and Northern Routes of the CalREN backbone (see diagram to the right). The installation of equipment along the Bay Area Route has been completed, and the next stage of the turn-up is underway. The conclusion of this project will result in a redefinition of network Routes along CalREN such that the path from Los Angeles to Riverside and then northward to Sacramento, Oakland, and Sunnyvale will be referred to as the Inland Route.

Also undergoing a refresh is the high-performance research (HPR) tier of the CalREN network. The CalREN-HPR Refresh is being undertaken to provide additional services to participating Associates and to "future-proof" the network. CalREN-HPR is used by CENIC's research university members to support high-performance research applications in areas like astronomy, oceanography, high-energy and particle physics, metagenomics, and more.

The CalREN-HPR Refresh is being undertaken in two parts: a refresh of the two existing Layer 3 (routed) network and the addition of Layer 2 10-Gigabit Ethernet switching services. The Layer 3 Refresh has been completed as new routers have been installed, and Associates have been migrated to this new equipment. The Layer 2 Refresh is underway.

Also taking place is an upgrade to the Coachella Route. This project will upgrade the Coachella Valley ring which extends from San Diego to Riverside through El Centro, Yuma, and Palm Desert, to provide 10GE connectivity throughout that region. In addition, this project will create a second regional aggregation point in the San Diego metropolitan area, which will allow sites in that area to connect to diverse hubsites cost-effectively. Completion is expected during 2010.

More CalREN-wide Projects are listed on the CENIC website, including more information about the Western Regional Network, other Statewide upgrades, and a replacement of the platforms used to provide last-mile connectivity for the UC campuses. Bookmark the page for up-to-date information on CENIC Network Projects!

Featured CENIC Star Performer: Brian Shepard

[Picture of Brian Shepard]

The chief purpose of advanced networks is to bring together not simply computers or data, but people as well, enabling not just the synthesis of information but of entire environments to create seamless, globally distributed spaces for collaboration. With its rigorous need for very low latency and extremely high-fidelity video and audio transmission, the performing arts are perfect candidates for pushing the online collaborative spaces made possible by advanced networks to their limits. May's Featured Researcher is the recent winner of one of four Internet2 IDEA Awards, representing applied advanced networking at its best and holding the promise to increase the impact of next-generation networks around the world.

Shepard created EchoDamp, software that maintains the quality of outbound and incoming audio content from a wide frequency range and eliminates the echo over high-speed Internet connections. In effect, it can reduce the hissing heard on a microphone during a jam session or during a class conducted on the Internet.

The software is licensed to more than 80 universities worldwide. Music schools such as the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, and the New World Symphony use the videoconferencing technology for free.

"It's what made sense," Shepard said. "I knew that if this was the primary market then the cost would be prohibitive. They'd have no way of affording it otherwise."

This is the second IDEA award for Shepard. In 2006, he accepted it as part of a team that developed a protocol for interactive music education.

To learn more about the other Star Performers that CENIC has featured, please visit our website at www.cenic.org.

Eight UCs, Caltech, LBL Reach Hawaiian Summit Stargazers with CalREN

The SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation Symposium will take place from June 27 - July 2, 2010 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, and UCO Lick's Bob Kibrick will be presenting an update on the state of networking to the W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Observing stations on the summit are of limited use due to the harsh conditions of low temperatures and low oxygen; remote observing from nearby Waimea was instituted for this reason in the mid-1990s.

However, with advanced networking, remote observation has been made possible from sites on the mainland, with the most recent additions being UC Davis and UC Irvine, as well as the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, bringing the California total to eight UC campuses and Caltech in addition to CENIC member Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (The only campuses not to have remote observing stations for the Keck Observatory are the medically-focused UC San Francisco and the newest campus UC Merced.)

[Picture of Observing at Waimea and UC Santa Cruz]

The advanced networking made possible by CENIC allowing these researchers to access the telescopes high atop Mauna Kea also puts them in touch with one another. Says Kibrick, "More recently, we are seeing collaborative remote observing involving a single observing team that is split between multiple sites. For example, we have recently had observing runs where observing team members were operating simultaneously from UC Berkeley, UCLA, and [Caltech], and another where the team members were at Keck HQ (Waimea), UC Santa Cruz, and Swinburne."

Pre-registration for the SPIE Symposium ends on June 11, 2010 for any readers of CENIC Today who are interested in attending. Manuscripts should be submitted by May 31, 2010.

SCinet Releases Call for Circuits for SC10

[SC10 Logo] The Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI), National LambdaRail (NLR), Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and Internet2 are partnering with SCinet to provide WAN services support for the SC10 conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, November 13 to 19, 2010.  In order to plan the WAN and metro resources required to support conference participants, we are asking exhibitors and network entities to identify their WAN circuit requirements into the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. WAN circuits are needed for any exhibitor that requires point-to-point connectivity to a remote location to support a large scale booth demonstration.

The SCinet WAN Team will work with LONI, NLR, ESnet and I2 to implement the required circuits for SC10 from the LONI/LSU connection point in New Orleans to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.  The following WAN services are planned to be available: NLR's PacketNet and FrameNet, Internet2's IP Network and dynamic circuit ION Service, ESnet's IP Network and Science Data Network and commodity Internet.

If your organization will require additional WAN circuits (i.e. NLR WaveNet, Internet2 WaveCo, another provider, etc.), please respond to this message with the details of your particular requirements and include the following information:

  • Circuit type and bandwidth: (i.e. OC-48c/STM-16c, OC-192c/STM-64c, OC-768c/STM-256c, GigE, 10GigE-LAN, Fibre Channel (specify type), HDTV, etc.)
  • Carrier or provider: (i.e. Level3, Qwest, NLR, Internet2, etc.)
  • Circuit origination point: (i.e. Level3 POP in New Orleans, MANLAN in New York, etc.)
  • Circuit termination point on the SC10 show floor: (i.e. SCinet Layer2 network, directly to exhibitor booth via dark fiber, etc.)

Even if you are unable to provide all the above details please contact the SCinet WAN Team with your intentions as soon as possible.  The deadline for submitting your organization's WAN circuit requirements is May 28, 2010.  Unless otherwise expressly agreed to by the SCinet WAN Team, all WAN circuits will be terminated at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and all WAN circuits into the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will be served by the LSU-Health Science Center pop located at 433 Bolivar Street, 7th Floor, Room 719, New Orleans, LA 70112.

Please send your circuit requirements, questions or concerns to the SCinet WAN Team  at wan-team@scinet.supercomp.org.


US & World Networking News:

CSU Sacramento receives federal funding for 'smart grid' training program

Sacramento State will receive $2 million a year from the California Energy Commission for research into Sacramento's Smart Grid system, which seeks to reduce energy consumption in the region, said Emir Macari, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Macari said it is unknown yet how long the annual funds will last. The funds, which were agreed upon on April 21, are in addition to the $905,348 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop a new training program for Sacramento's Smart Grid system.

Internet2 Richard Rose Award Honors David Lassner for Exemplary Contributions to Advanced Networking in Support of K20 Community

Internet2 announced at its annual Spring Member Meeting that David Lassner, vice president and chief information officer of the University of Hawaii, has been honored with this year's Richard Rose Award, an annual award established to recognize extraordinary individual contributions that extend the reach of advanced networking into the K20 community.

Lassner has committed a lifetime of effort to extending the reach of advanced networking to Hawaii's educational community, blazing the trail to establish state-of-the-art connections throughout the Hawaiian Islands as well as from Hawaii to the rest of the world.

GENI's Cluster D Research Centers Interconnected by National LambdaRail

GENI's Cluster D projects are using the dynamic VLAN provisioning tool, Sherpa, developed by National LambdaRail (NLR), over NLR's Layer 2 switched Ethernet service, FrameNet, to interconnect all participating testbed networks. As a result, resources managed by Duke University in Durham, NC, the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) in Chapel Hill, NC, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and soon Ohio State University in Columbus are now linked with each other and with the Starlight international exchange facility at Northwestern University in Chicago, effectively functioning as a single network resource for the GENI community.

Bill would help with community college transfers to CSU

A bill to make it easier for community college students to transfer to the California State University system has been introduced in the Legislature.

Often, community college students take all the courses leading to an associate-of-arts degree only to find many of the units aren't transferable to the CSU campus they want to attend, said Allison Jones, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs in the California State University system. "Students don't know what they need to take."

Senate Bill 1440 would "put into place an AA transfer degree with 60 units eligible for transfer to the CSU," he said. Students would know if they took those courses, all the units would transfer.

Google Apps could save Oregon schools $1.5M

Oregon educators hope a free suite of web-based software applications will help students become digitally literate while saving money for their struggling school districts, reports the Associated Press. The Oregon Department of Education began offering Google Apps for Education to public school districts on April 28, and officials predict a statewide savings of $1.5 million yearly for eMail, as well as additional savings for software and hardware upgrades that won't be needed anymore.

Opinion: Africa Grid?

For some years now, many have been hinting at an "AfricaGrid."

In the Mediterranean basin, we have seen many African countries participating directly in EUMedGrid (and more recently EUMedSupport).

In the southern region of Africa, we have seen much activity over the last couple of years that allows to envisage at least a "Sub-Saharan Grid."

About CENIC and How to Change Your Subscription:

California's education and research communities leverage their networking resources under CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, in order to obtain cost-effective, high-bandwidth networking to support their missions and answer the needs of their faculty, staff, and students. CENIC designs, implements, and operates CalREN, the California Research and Education Network, a high-bandwidth, high-capacity Internet network specially designed to meet the unique requirements of these communities, and to which the vast majority of the state's K-20 educational institutions are connected. In order to facilitate collaboration in education and research, CENIC also provides connectivity to non-California institutions and industry research organizations with which CENIC's Associate researchers and educators are engaged.

CENIC is governed by its member institutions. Representatives from these institutions also donate expertise through their participation in various committees designed to ensure that CENIC is managed effectively and efficiently, and to support the continued evolution of the network as technology advances.

For more information, visit www.cenic.org.

Subscription Information: You can subscribe and unsubscribe to CENIC Today at http://lists.cenic.org/mailman/listinfo/cenic-today.

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