Global Lambda Integrated Facility

Optical networking experts converge on California for 5th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop

25 October 2005 -- The 5th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop was held on the 29th and 30th of September 2005 in San Diego, USA. This was the latest in a series of annual workshops where leading figures working on optical networking around the world come together under the banner of the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF). The two-day workshop was held in conjunction with iGrid 2005, and provided the opportunity for managers, engineers and developers from national research and education networks (NRENs), universities, research institutions and industry to discuss development and co-ordination of optical networking facilities.

Around 100 persons attended the workshop, which was chaired by Kees Neggers of SURFnet, the Netherlands. This high number not only reflected the move from an invited to an open annual event, but also the increasing interest in optical networks.

The first day of the workshop was organised in a symposium format, and featured practical examples of the use of optical networks in the OptIPuter parallel computing initiative in North America, and for the Large Hadron Collider based at CERN in Switzerland. There were also discussions about the types of Layer-1 and Layer-2 services offered by NRENs, and how to facilitate open optical exchanges, which are a key component of the GLIF.

The second day was organised as separate working group sessions. There are four established GLIF working groups, which deal with governance, research and applications, control plane technologies, and technical issues, respectively.

The Technical Working Group and the recently created Control Plane Working Group held a joint session during the morning, before breaking out into separate sessions in the afternoon. This was to facilitate division of tasks between the two groups, and to discuss activities common to both groups. In particular, it was proposed to develop a common repository of GLIF resources (for connection, scheduling and policy purposes), which requires contributions at several protocol levels. The standardisation of the terminology used in optical networking was also discussed, as differing usages of terms is a well-known source of confusion.

In its separate afternoon session, the Technical Working Group, led by Erik-Jan Bos (SURFnet, the Netherlands) and René Hatem (CANARIE, Canada) continued the discussion on resource scheduling, and explored ways of improving communications between optical exchanges. The session concluded with a useful update on the latest developments in transcontinental Ethernet.

In the other afternoon session, the Control Plane Working Group, led by Gigi Karmous-Edwards (MCNC Grid Computing and Network Services, USA) met for the first time. Whilst there had been previous workshops on control plane issues, this was the first meeting under the GLIF umbrella. It was agreed that the group should investigate technologies to automate and provide on-demand provisioning of optical resources. Control plane technologies are quite new, and as there is no standard way to reserve bandwidth, most connections are implemented manually. The participants discussed different approaches and ideas for possible tests, which outlined a path for future work.

The Research and Applications Working Group, led by Larry Smarr (University of California at San Diego) and Maxine Brown (University of Illinois at Chicago) considered how to promote the GLIF infrastructure amongst users. Whereas other groups focus on connecting campuses, this group primarily focuses on connecting lambdas from campus edges to laboratories. To facilitate this, it will develop a taxonomy of applications, collect materials that can assist in development of applications, and run high-quality demonstrations (e.g. HDTV). Another task is to obtain quantitative measurements (e.g. bandwidth, burstiness)of the nature of the applications using lambdas.

Finally, the Governance Working Group approved the continuance of the GLIF secretariat for a further year. The secretariat had been established at the previous workshop to support the GLIF activities, and its functions are being provided by TERENA. Tokyo was confirmed as the venue for 6th Annual Global LamdaGrid Workshop, which will be jointly hosted by NICT/JGN-II and WIDE in September 2006.

About GLIF -- The Global Lambda Integrated Facility is an international virtual organisation of NRENs, consortia and institutions that promotes lambda networking. GLIF provides lambdas internationally as an integrated facility to support data-intensive scientific research, and supports middleware development for lambda networking. It brings together some of the world's premier networking engineers to develop an international infrastructure by identifying equipment, connection requirements, and necessary engineering functions and services. More information is available on the GLIF website at

About iGrid 2005 -- The international Grid (iGrid) collaborative events showcase ongoing global collaborations in middleware development and applications research that require high-performance multi-gigabit networks. The iGrids are organised every two or three years by institutions, organisations, consortia and NRENs which also participate in the GLIF. More information on iGrid 2005 is available at

About TERENA -- TERENA is the association of research and education networking organisations in and around Europe. TERENA organises technical activities and provides a platform for discussion and collaboration to encourage the development of high-quality computer networking infrastructures and services for the European research community. For more information, see the TERENA website at