Global Lambda Integrated Facility

GLIF in confluence in Windy City

19 October 2012 -- The 12th Annual Global LambaGrid Workshop was held on the 11th and 12th of October 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago, United States. The venue was located on the Chicago River that joins the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins, so was a symbolic location for bringing together nearly 130 participants from around the world. The event was hosted by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Chicago at Illinois and International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Ciena, Alcatel-Lucent, Tata Communications, and Planar. Thanks are also extended to the University of Chicago who provided the hotel management and registration services.

Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of the US Office of Science and Technology, provided a video introduction to the workshop. This was followed by the keynote speech given by Larry Smarr, the Director of Calit2 and Chair of the NSF Cyberinfrastructure Committee, who discussed the challenges of providing campus access to high-speed networks. An increasing number of e-science applications such as the LHC, climate change simulations, oceanography, mass spectrometry and genome mapping utilise both on- and off-campus computational and storage facilities. This makes it extremely important for remote users to have access to campus resources, and campus researchers to have access to remote resources.

Rick Stevens of Argonne National Laboratory then described the challenges facing researchers requiring high-performance computing in future. Exponential increases in CPU clock speeds look to be levelling off, whilst the power consumption of traditional chips is becoming prohibitive. The demand for improved performance is therefore likely need to be met through increasing parallelisation.

The opening plenary session also featured Chip Elliot (US GENI Program Office) who gave a presentation on the GENI initiative that aims to offer virtualised network testbeds, and from Bill St. Arnaud who offered an insight into the important roles that research and education networks could play in future. Peter Hinrich (SURFnet) then reported on the IEEE Workship on Collaborative Research using eScience Infrastructure and High-Speed Networks.

The following afternoon and morning sessions were devoted to the Technical, Research and Application and Governance Working Groups.

The Technical Working Group opened with updates on current GLIF Open Lightpath Exchanges (GOLEs), and in particular the new G√ČANT Open Exchange in London. This was followed by discussions on the implications of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) for GLIF, and it was agreed to establish a new Inter-Domain SDN Task Force to provide feedback on requirements to vendors. There was also interest in developing a perfSONAR-like mechanism for measuring the carbon footprint of the GOLEs. This initiative known as GreenSONAR aims to produce an energy footprint for GLIF that might ultimately be used to manage and control power consumption.

The work of the existing Distributed Topology Exchange, NSI Implementation, Dynamic GOLE Services, Performance Verification Architectures, and Defining GLIF Architecture Task Forces was further presented. In particular, NSI is now considered to be sufficient mature for adoption by operators of production services, and a peer-to-peer architecture for exchange of topology information was also adopted.

Additionally, Eric Boyd (Internet2) was appointed Co-Chair of the Technical Working Group to replace Gigi Karmous-Edwards (NCSU) who had previously stepped down.

The Research & Applications Working Group this year combined its session with the Technical Working Gorup, and invited all those involved in demonstrations to give brief five-minute overviews of what attendees would see.

The Governance Working Group discussed the future funding of GLIF, and agreed to adopt a new sponsorship model. There will now be four recommended levels of sponsorship based on distinct criteria, which should make it easier for organisations to better determine what is an appropriate level of sponsorship.

An unprecedented number of demonstrations were organised at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at UIC during the evening of the first day. The centrepiece was the premiere of EVL's CAVE2 virtual reality environment that showed how teleimmersion could be used for architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage applications. There were also advanced visualisation demonstrations from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland. Other demonstrations included 4K uncompressed video transmission over a 100 Gb/s link from Canada, long-distance data transfer at 40 Gb/s, the use of MPTCP and OpenFlow for very large datasets, and InstaGENI distributed cloud services using the GENI environment. In addition, the OGF-supported NSI 2.0 protocols were showcased on the GLIF Automated GOLE testbed, with a view to better supporting the automatic provision of performance-guaranteed services across the GLIF infrastructure.

The closing plenary session saw presentations from David Wilde (AARNet) on supporting the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in Western Australia; Bill Kramer (National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign) on petascale computing; from Harvey Newman (Caltech) on the LHCONE; and from Robert Grossman (University of Chicago) on the development of open science data clouds. There followed a panel session on '100 Gb/s Services and Technologies' that was moderated by Joe Mambretti (iCAIR) and featured Takaya Miyazawa (NICT), Gerben van Malenstein (SURFnet) and Brian Tierney (ESnet).

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

"This vibrant event was not just a GLIF LambdaGrid Workshop, but appeared more like a mini-iGrid. The demonstrations at EVL were a brilliant display of state-of-the-art e-infrastructure tools, skills and global cooperation. And with NSI 2.0 now ready for operation, lightpath networking will no longer just be a tool for geeks, but will become available to all researchers."

Next year's 13th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop will be held on 2-4 October 2012 in Singapore, hosted by SingAREN and the Nanyang Technological 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