Big-data science requires SDN, Internet2 chief says

The 'one-size-fits-all' Internet can't accommodate new research applications and huge data flows, Dave Lambert said

Software-defined networking in universities today is like the early Internet decades ago, and big-data researchers in genomics and other fields already need it for their next set of discoveries, according to the head of Internet2.

Internet2 runs a nationwide network linking research institutions, and it's already using elements of SDN on its production infrastructure. SDN, a closely watched set of technologies at various stages of development, is intended to shift the control of networks from specialized devices such as switches and routers to software that can run on standard computing platforms and be virtualized. It promises a range of benefits that could include lower costs, faster service deployment and more network innovation.

The Internet itself began as a tool to help far-flung researchers share data and insights. But the massive amounts of data that many scientists work with today, thanks to advances in computing and storage, require new ways to communicate, said David Lambert, Internet2's president and CEO, at the Open Networking Summit conference on Wednesday. The technology used on the Internet today isn't flexible enough to support those new requirements, such as large file transfers, massive data sets, and content caching and distribution, Lambert said.

"The genomics community finds very little in our current-generation Internet that is capable of supporting the needs they have," Lambert said. SDN will let developers invent new networking methods suited to the needs of different applications, he said.

Internet2 is operating a live, production pilot for SDN as well as a high-speed backbone to give academic users plenty of bandwidth for new applications. The organization has deployed OpenFlow-enabled routers, including gear from Juniper Networks and Brocade, on the 100-Gigabit Ethernet network. There are 29 major universities committed to bringing 100-Gigabit connections to their campuses and to using Internet2's OpenFlow-based service.

SDN represents as big a change in networking as Ethernet and Internet Protocol did when IBM's SNA (System Network Architecture) ruled the land, according to Lambert. "I see a lot of parallels to what we are dealing with, with SDN right now," he said. But the industry is adapting much faster this time, he added.

Just as NSFnet was the first-generation Internet when it went online in 1986, Internet2 is the first generation of a new type of network that will spark further innovation, he said.

"The services that we will provide on this network are going to be as different from the current Internet as the current Internet is from what we had 25 years ago," Lambert said.

Openness is important to keep alive the freewheeling type of innovation that's happening now in SDN, Lambert said. For decades, networking vendors have focused on shipping products rather than pursuing fundamental change in the Internet's software stack, he said.

"The need of the commercial vendors to create economic advantage ... had created a system that was too closed," Lambert said.

The result is a one-size-fits-all system that isn't suited to new kinds of data flows, such as those needed for big-data research. SDN can give developers the freedom to make networks operate in completely new ways, Lambert said. It's important not to let vendors lock down the ground rules of SDN too soon, he said.

"The thing that excites me most about the development of OpenFlow and SDN ... is the opportunity to have a network stack that's open again, that people can actually get their hands on, and use it and do disruptive things," Lambert said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NetworkingInternet2

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service

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?