Global Lambda Integrated Facility

GLIF community finds rhythm in samba capital

20 September 2011 -- The 11th Annual Global LambaGrid Workshop was held on the 13th and 14th of September 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was the first time that the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) held its annual event in South America, which brought together more than 120 participants, including more than 60 from around the world, to a venue that has the famous Sugar Loaf mountain as a spectacular backdrop. Hosted and sponsored by RNP, the Brazilian National Research and Education Network, it involved managers, engineers, researchers and developers from research and education networks, universities, research institutions and commercial vendors who discussed the latest developments in high capacity optical networking, middleware and applications.

The keynote speech was given by Haroldo Velho of the Brazilian Institute for Space Studies (INPE), who provided an overview of the intensive computing needed for space research. Reliable high-speed networks have become a critical component in controlling, monitoring and distributing data in remote sensing, Earth observation, weather prediction, astronomy and environmental modelling applications, and have also enabled these data-intensive applications to take advantage of distributed computing facilities.

The opening plenary session also featured Artur Barczyk (Caltech) who gave a presentation on the Large Hadron Collider Open Network Environment (LHCONE), which aims to utilise open lightpath exchanges to improve global connectivity to Tier 2 and 3 centres. There followed presentations from Marcelo Gattass (Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro - PUC-Rio) on how networks were facilitating engineering visualisation applications in the Brazilian oil industry; from Alberto Paradisi (CPqD) on recent advances in the development of WDM transmission technology in Brazil; and from Marco Cecchini (Embraer) on the use of computer-aided design and engineering in the Brazilian aircraft industry.

The following afternoon and morning sessions were devoted to working group meetings that dealt with governance, research and applications, and technical issues.

The Technical Working Group opened with updates on current GLIF Open Lightpath Exchanges (GOLEs), and in particular the new GOLE in Egypt serving Northern Africa. This was followed by discussions on the work being undertaken by GLIF participant Bill St. Arnaud to develop governance models and end-to-end policy principles for open lightpath exchanges. The goal now is to formulate a common architecture for lambdas, open lightpath exchanges and lightpath-capable networks, led by St. Arnaud, Inder Monga (ESnet) and Erik-Jan Bos (NORDUnet).

The results of the campus networking survey were also presented, and revealed that lightpaths were still primarily used by national or regional research and education networks. It also showed that the most active users were those who participated in GLIF meetings, and that sharing experiences and establishing best practice were considered key roles for GLIF. With this, the Campus Networking Task Force was concluded, and its leader Ronald van der Pol (SARA) was thanked for his work.

The GNI-API and Resource Allocation Task Forces were also formally concluded, and their respective leaders, Evangelos Chaniotakis (ESnet) and Gigi Karmous-Edwards (NCSU), were thanked for their efforts. Much of this work will now be taken forward in two new task forces on NSI (Network Services Interface) implementation led by Inder Monga (ESnet), and End-to-End Service Verification led by Jerry Sobieski (NORDUnet) and Steve Wolff (Internet2).

Gigi Karmous-Edwards (NCSU) also announced that she is stepping down as Co-Chair of the Technical Working Group. Karmous-Edwards led the original Control Plane Working Group until its merger with the Technical Working Group in 2008, when she became a Co-Chair of that group. GLIF extended its thanks for her work over the years, and plans to confirm her replacement before the next Technical Working Group meeting on 25-26 January 2012 in Baton Rouge, USA.

The Research and Applications Working Group aims to identify research and applications that both develop infrastructure and use it. This year’s session focused on how Green ICT (information and communications technologies) can reduce power and cooling requirements. High-speed networks are key to consolidating data centres, and when combined with sources of green energy, can bring significant savings in carbon emissions. The ability to create 'virtual machines' to allow computationally-intensive jobs to be transparently migrated to sites rich in green energy such as sun and wind is important, and recent studies indicate that 100 Gb/s networks are far superior to 10 Gb/s in making this transparent to users.

The Governance Working Group discussed the future role of GLIF and ways to ensure continuity of funding. It also discussed how its strategic and technical directions could be enhanced, which might include the appointment of a coordinator if additional sponsorship can be found.

During the demo session on the first day, several demonstrations were organised that included the interoperability of seven different systems implementing OGF's Network Services Interface protocol; a University of Sao Paulo 4K visualisation tiled display wall featuring both collaboration software for sharing multiple windows of information and high-performance audio-visual media transmitted from the University of Essex in the UK; and the dynamic set-up and tear-down of lightpaths between user institutions of RNP in Brazil and Internet2 in the US, demonstrating the interoperation of their respective Cipó (pre-production) and ION (production) on-demand dynamic circuit services. There was also a closed circuit demonstration of 100 Gb/s DWDM transmission technologies, along with a high-performance packet inspection system.

The closing plenary session saw presentations from Jerry Sobieski (NORDUnet) on the technical and financial aspects of open exchange points; from Greg Cole (GLORIAD) on the Taj initiative which aims to extend R&E access to communities in Egypt, India, Southeast Asia and the North Atlantic through the establishment of new regional exchange points; and, from Rob Vietzke (Internet2) who presented the Open Science, Scholarship and Services Exchange (OS3E) that would offer a lightpath service within the US using SDN/OpenFlow technology.

There followed a vibrant panel session on the 'Future Direction of GLIF'. This was moderated by Karel Vietsch (GLIF Secretariat) and featured Greg Cole (GLORIAD), Joe Mambretti (StarLight/Northwestern University), Kees Neggers (SURFnet), Florencio Utreras (RedCLARA) and Steve Wolff (Internet2). Some interesting viewpoints were exchanged on whether lambda networking would largely remain the domain of big science, or whether it would become more accessible to regular users. Today’s consumer Internet was originally a research and education programme started in the 1960s, so while not yet mainstream, GLIF’s role in enabling various usages of gigabit networking will facilitate the need for high-bandwidth as a mainstream commodity.

The workshop concluded with a closing address from Kees Neggers (SURFnet), the GLIF Chair, who said:

This was the first time a Global LambdaGrid Workshop had been held in South America, and the presence of so many local participants demonstrated the huge interest and demand for lambda networking in the region. RNP has done much to lead the way, and with the cooperation of other organisations within Brazil and abroad, the boundaries of GLIF community have been extended even further."

GLIF would like to express its thanks to RNP for its organisational and financial support of this event. The 12th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop will be held on 11-12 October 2012 in conjunction with IEEE eScience and OGF 35 in Chicago, USA, hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University.

The proceedings of the workshop are available at

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