The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 06:45:27 EDT
Subject: [vel] redesigning the Internet

May 22, 2007

"New" Internet to Be Built by Original Designer

The National Science Foundation announced yesterday that its brand-new test
bed for Internet redesign would be run by the firm that first figured out how
to connect computers at separate universities in the 1960s.

BBN Technologies Corporation will receive as much as $10-million to get the
NSF's Global Environment for Network Innovation, or GENI, up and running. 
GENI's focus, according to a statement on its Web site, is to allow researchers
"to experiment with radical network designs in a way that is far more realistic
than they can today. Researchers will be able to build their own new versions
of the 'net.'"

The first big chore falling to BBN will be to come up with plans and a budget
to do all that, and to get it approved by the science foundation. Out of that
effort will come grants to academic and industry researchers.

Arguably, BBN has more Internet experience than any other company. In 1969 it
led the effort to connect computers at four universities, a linkage that
became ARPAnet, the original backbone of today's Internet. --Josh Fischman
Posted on Tuesday May 22, 2007

What is GENI?
  GENI is an experimental facility called the Global Environment for Network
Innovation. GENI is designed to allow as a experiments on a wide variety of
problems in communications, networking, distributed systems, cyber-security, and
networked services and applications. The emphasis is on enabling researchers
to experiment with radical network designs in a way that is far more realistic
than they can today. Researchers will be able to build their own new versions
of the “net” or to study the “net” in ways that are not possible today.
Compatibility, with the Internet is NOT required. The purpose of GENI is to give
researchers the opportunity to experiment unfettered by assumptions or
requirements and to support those experiments at a large scale with real user

How is GENI being developed?
  GENI is being proposed to NSF as a Major Research and Equipment Facility
Construction (MREFC) project. The MREFC program is NSF’s mechanism for funding
large infrastructure projects. NSF has funded MREFC projects in a variety of
fields, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO),
but GENI would be the first MREFC project initiated and designed by the
computer science research community.

How did NSF pick BBN to perform the work of the GENI Project Office (GPO)?
  BBN was one of a number of organizations that responded to a solicitation
late last year. The proposals were put through a specialized NSF merit review
process that included multiple distinguished review panels with expertise
spanning the fields of research and project management, large software development,
and the management of large optical and wireless networks. BBN was selected as
the best candidate.

Hasn’t the GENI effort been underway for a while?
  Yes indeed. Over the past three years, NSF and the research community have
taken a number of steps to help determine what the research community needed
for research infrastructure and start the design of GENI. There have been a
number of study groups in key research areas. And, most important, there’s a huge
effort by a group of volunteers known as the GENI Planning Group to develop an
initial architecture and research plans for GENI. We’re intensely grateful to
these volunteers and we hope and expect we can call on their expertise going

Isn't BBN the company that built the ARPANET and Internet?
  Yes, BBN built the ARPANET and helped build the Internet.

When will GENI be ready?
  Current plans call for a few years of work by the project office to develop
detailed engineering plans and costs, after which, if NSF approves the
funding, GENI will be built.

So who is the GPO sub-contracting to ?
  Most of the GPO’s work will be done via sub-contracts to academic and
industrial teams. However, there are no sub-contracts for technical work yet. As the
GPO identifies engineering risk, it will put out solicitations for proposals.
The solicitations will be open to both academia and industry and there will
be a peer review process to help determine which proposals the GPO should fund.

So is GENI the "next" Internet?
  GENI is a research facility. It is not a replacement for the Internet (or
any other communications technology). Rather the purpose of GENI to test and
mature a wide range of research ideas in data communications and distributed
systems. As those ideas mature, we may find that we adapt the Internet to
incorporate those ideas. Or we may find a new communications infrastructure that gets
built alongside the Internet. Either result is a success.

Is GENI only for academic researchers?
  Absolutely not! GENI seeks the widest possible participation from
researchers in industry and academia. We're also interested in reciprocal teaming
arrangements with researchers outside the US.

Who is defining how GENI will work?
  Ultimately, the research community will make these decisions, through
working groups and the GENI Science Council (previously announced by the Computing
Community Consortium in March 2007). The job of the project office, the GENI
Project Office, GPO is to ensure that the design of GENI is sound from an
engineering standpoint and will actually do the things and support the experiments
that the research community wants to do on GENI.

  See what's free at

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