Global Lambda Integrated Facility

GLIF aims to score with open GOLEs

29 November 2010 -- The Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) community successfully demonstrated a pilot implementation of an automated multi-domain lightpath provisioning system during SC10 in New Orleans on 15-18 November 2010. This expanded on the system that was first demonstrated at the 10th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop in Geneva on 13 October 2010.

GLIF is an international collaboration of research and education service providers and researchers working together to develop a global infrastructure of interconnected 'lambdas' that can be used for data-intensive scientific research. These lambas (optical wavelengths running over fibre optic cables) terminate at exchange points known as GOLEs - GLIF Open Lightpath Exchanges - which are able to interconnect lambas from different organizations to create end-to-end virtual circuits known as lightpaths. Lightpaths refer to very high performance network transport connections typically providing capacities of 1, 10 or 40 Gb/s.

The GLIF has been instrumental in facilitating the integration of lambdas and lightpaths into high-performance applications worldwide, but to date it has been necessary to manually set up lightpaths at each intervening GOLE. This not only requires significant administrative effort, but can also incur hours or even days of delay to configure each lightpath. Clearly then, there are significant advantages to establishing lightpaths using automated software systems.

A major obstacle to using automated systems in the past has been the substantial differences in technical service capabilities, administrative policy, and exchange of routing and topology information necessary to construct paths across multiple network domains. The Automated GOLE pilot project has demonstrated the proof of concept that such inter-domain provisioning can be performed across collaborating organizations using automated agents for path planning, provisioning, and monitoring.

The Automated GOLE pilot leverages the Fenius software developed by ESnet that presents a common API for setting up lightpaths, and translates these requests to the appropriate underlying control mechanisms in each GOLE domain. This allows lightpaths to be established on demand or reserved in advance for specific periods, along with dedicated capacity and performance characteristics.

Eight GOLEs and a number of supporting networks participated in the demonstrations. Participating GOLE operators were CERNLight (Switzerland), CzechLight (Czech Republic), JGNLight (Japan), MAN LAN (United States), NetherLight (the Netherlands), NorthernLight (Nordic consortium), PSNCLight (Poland) and StarLight (United States). Collaborating networks and institutions included AIST (Japan), CESNET (Czech Republic), Internet2 (United States), KDDI (Japan), USLHCnet (United States), the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), and the University of Essex (United Kingdom). Lightpaths were successively established and released in a random fashion between each location during the four days of the conference thus simulating a functionally realistic global service environment. The perfSONAR PinGER service was used to monitor and display the action, providing proof-of-concept and a platform for further development.

The demonstrations represented the initial deployment phase of the GLIF sponsored Automated GOLE Pilot Project. The Automated GOLE Pilot will remain in place thru 2011 to pursue two further objectives: The first objective is to work with the Open Grid Forum (OGF) Network Services Interface Working Group to develop a more complete, interoperable, and standardised API. The second objective is to involve demanding uses and application developers who are interested in the predictable network services (capacity, performance, scheduling, etc) offered by dynamic lightpaths, and who would be willing to work with the GOLE operators by providing feedback and helping develop best practice.

About GLIF -- The Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) 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