Global Lambda Integrated Facility

GLIF splices up vision of global architecture in Miami

14 November 2016 -- The 16th Annual Global LambaGrid Workshop was held on 29-30 September 2016 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Miami, United States. As a gateway between North and Latin America and one of the main exchange points for intercontinental research and education networking, Miami brought together more than 60 participants from around the world to discuss the vision for a global network architecture to support high-bandwidth research and applications. The event was co-located with Internet2 Technology Exchange 2016 and thanks go to Internet2, Florida LambdaRail and Florida International University for supporting the workshop.

This workshop was the first under the new co-chairship of Jim Ghadbane (CANARIE) and David Wilde (AARNet) and they provided the keynote outlining the vision of the Global Network Architecture (GNA) that aimed to interconnect research and education networks around the world in a way that increases reach and capacity for all. This was considering cost sharing, fibre and lambda swaps, and private sector partnerships, along with a commitment to open exchanges and usage policies. Early pathfinders for this included the ANA-300G trans-Atlantic fibres and optical exchange points in Montreal, Cape Town and Guam, with a view to extending connectivity to the southern hemisphere and Asia-Pacific regions during 2017. A working group was currently looking at the proposed architecture and network services, and had established a website at

Jeff Kantor (LSST) next discussed the networks that support the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The telescope was based in Chile and used two redundant 100 Gb/s links from Santiago to Florida to connect to management, data processing and archiving centres across the US and in France. The connections within Chile were jointly provided by REUNA, the national research and education network, and the AURA/LSST observatory through an 18-year IRU, resulting in savings of nearly 90% and demonstrating how joint multinational investments in fibre networks can substantially reduce costs.

The opening plenary session then heard about other developments in the GLIF community, including from Steven Wolff (Internet2) on Information-Centric Networking (ICN) that looks to evolve Internet infrastructure way from connected hosts towards an architecture where information is the focus and is referenced independently of location. There is currently an ICN testbed being operated by Internet2, NORDUnet, PARC, Cisco, Clemson, the University of Chicago, the University of Utah, and the University of California Santa Cruz.

Tom DeFanti (Calit2) provided an update on the Pacific Research Platform one year on, which was connecting more than sixteen DMZs at 10 and 40 Gb/s to create scientific compute and storage cloud. This had real-world applications in regional climate change forecasting, environment observation and fire warning, as well as demonstrating the practicality of replicating huge datasets over the network. The next phase is to extend the PRP concepts to national and then global research platforms, building on the CENIC, Pacific Wave and GLIF connections.

Rounding off the session was Julio Ibarra (FIU) who provided the lessons learned from the AmLight transition to SDN. AmLight is an NSF-funded initiative to support the needs of US and Latin American research and education communities, which includes two 100 Gb/s links from Miami to São Paulo (via the Atlantic and Pacific) as well as supporting additional links to Santiago in Chile and Fortaleza in Brazil. The key motivations for moving to SDN were improving operational efficiency by handing over layer 2 management to the users, allowing them to provision multi-domain connections and build testbeds to be established on demand. This has achieved significant benefits and has encouraged the development of new international projects, although there proved to be a significant amount of troubleshooting and debugging required.

The following afternoon and morning sessions were devoted to the Technical Working Group chaired by Lars Fischer (NORDUnet) and Eric Boyd (Internet2), which opened with new developments in South Africa and New Zealand along with updates on the situation in the Netherlands, Korea and United States. This led into discussions on best practices for cloud provider connectivity, which proposed connecting NRENs and commercial cloud providers through open exchanges, that would allow both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-end user traffic for research purposes and could leverage the GNA.

There were then discussions on the requirements for Global Open Lightpath Exchange (GOLE) operators, which is aiming to define baseline specifications. In particular, a set of guidelines were being formulated that would define minimum technical, operational and hosting capabilities for the Optical Exchanges used in the GNA. Continuing in a similar theme, there was a discussion on the definition and role of common resources within GLIF, and how boundaries could be defined as to what constitutes fair use, how these can be administered, and how resource conflicts are handled.

That just left an update on the work of the AutoGOLE Task Force that has been working on a provisioning portal for handling global circuit requests. It had been agreed earlier in the year that MEICAN looked the most promising implementation, and a pilot had started the previous week. The AutoGOLE mechanism was also now being used for connecting a number of production services in order to improve the set-up of lightpaths on demand.

At the end of the first day, several demonstrations were organised at the venue. This included end-to-end performance monitoring over a 100 Gb/s link using the Blue Planet Analytics application, a demonstration of flexible live rendering of uncompressed 4K distributions being send from Japan to Miami over a 10 Gb/s network, and a prototype multi-site SDX controller under development by Georgia Tech and FIU that uses software switches to automatically create tunnels between different network endpoints using a web-based interface.

The Governance Working Group chaired by Jim Ghadbane (CANARIE) and David Wilde (AARNet) was held during the morning of the second day. This approved the budget for 2017 which kept the sponsorship tiers at existing levels, asked the Technical Working Group to develop an open scheme for future collection of data for the GLIF map, and asked the GLIF leadership to investigate hosting options for the GLIF Secretariat in future.

It was also agreed to form a Programme Committee to evaluate hosting offers for 2017 and to suggest topics and speakers for the programme. This will be comprised of the current GLIF Working Group Chairs, the GLIF Executive Secretary Kevin Meynell, along with Alexander van den Hil (SURFnet), Dale Finkelson (Internet2), Cees de Laat (University of Amsterdam), Joe Mambretti (StarLight International/National Communications Exchange) and Rodney Wilson (Ciena).

One other meeting was held the day before the workshop. The GLIF Americas Working Group (chaired by Joe Mambretti, StarLight International/National Communications Exchange) discussed developments and requirements in North and South American R&E networking.

The closing plenary session saw presentations on the new Pacific Wave SDX from John Hess (CENIC) which currently serves the Western US and 29 countries in the Pacific, the Blue Planet Framework from Joe Mambretti (StarLight International/National Communications Exchange) which is a Software-Defined Infrastructure, and on programmable network from Yatish Kumar (Corsa). This was followed by a panel session on the direction GLIF and GNA that was moderated by Eric Boyd (Internet2) and featured Buseung Cho (KISTI), Lars Fischer (NORDUnet), Cees de Laat (University of Amsterdam), David Wilde (AARNet) and Rod Wilson (Ciena).

The workshop concluded with a closing address from GLIF Co-Chair David Wilde who thanked Internet2 for hosting the workshop, and announced that the dates and venues for next year’s 17th Annual Global LambdaGrid Workshop will be decided by the Programme Committee by the end of 2016.

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