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Next Generation Infrastructure Program Update and a Look Ahead in 2019

Feb 25, 2019, by George Loftus
Tags: 2019 Internet2 Global Summit, Advanced Networking, Frontpage News, Internet2 Member, Internet2 Network, Next Generation Infrastructure, Recent Posts, Research & Education Networks, State and Regional Network Spotlight

At the 2018 Global Summit, we held discussions with the community about their requirements and what we would need to do with a Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) to deliver the value our campus and regional members need to support science, collaboration, the academic enterprise, and the ever-present migration to the Cloud.

There has been great progress by both community and staff efforts since that time and we wanted to review some of the highlights for you as we approach the 2019 Global Summit. Most importantly to note, we started 2018 Global Summit confirming the requirements for what we needed to do, and we are entering 2019 Global Summit with progress and plans for those improvements with several goals achieved. In short, we have moved from talking to implementing and we continue to plan for the needs of the future.

The NGI program has been designed as a full set of activities to review and address the requirements the community has identified to bring value to Internet2 members in the coming years. NGI focuses on support for researchers as well as the academic enterprise. NGI also supports cloud migration in conjunction with regional networks and has an emphasis on enabling software-driven infrastructure for Internet2 members. As we update services to focus on research, cloud, programmability, and ecosystem coordination, we will also reset the scale economies that allow the community to deliver the massive volume of research data expected in the coming years. 

The activities of the NGI program span three main areas: software and automation, service capabilities, and infrastructure. Below is a list of the accomplishments and plans by the community and Internet2 staff for these three areas of NGI: 

1. Software and Automation: new features, primarily driven by software, automation and systems virtualization to allow the infrastructure to be more readily integrated in to the broader campus, regional and cloud environment around us.

  • Internet2 staff have focused on evaluating emerging workflow orchestration, internal automation, and telemetry capabilities that could bring value to the community.
  • This effort has already included testbeds, demonstrations, and pilots to showcase capabilities and determine interest. At the 2018 TechEX, with the support of Arista Networks, we demonstrated how segment routing and flow detection could be used to influence science flows on a national network.
  • In support of the National Research Platform pilot, the team has deployed several Kubernetes nodes that are now operated as part of the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) and Open Science Grid.
  • A Cloud Connect Portal (OESS 2.0) was created allowing connectors, participants, and researchers to provision Layer 3 networks between themselves and Amazon, Google, and Microsoft “direct connect” products in seconds.

2. Service Requirements: the services and service models through which the community integrates Internet2 infrastructure services.

  • Held calls with more than 40 connector/network member organizations to refine our understanding of the individual connector’s needs in the future infrastructure.
  • Announced immediate access to increased connector capacity for peering services from 20G to 50G in anticipation of even greater capacity in the NGI infrastructure.
  • Completed community pilots including router slicing, Voyager optical, cloud orchestration, and alien wave.
  • A Routed Services Futures Group created a set of recommendations for the future of Internet2 routing services on behalf of the community that was approved by the NAOPpag and will now be moved to implementation.
  • A community NAOPpag Service Model Group, formed in December of 2018, has been reviewing current services and advising staff on current and future service models. The group shared some service model prototypes with the connector/network member principals in a January 2019 face-to-face meeting and received feedback that will help to iterate on a future model. The next community discussion will be held at the 2019 Global Summit. 

3. Infrastructure: a number of optical and packet upgrade projects. 

  • A request for proposal was released to upgrade the optical network to an open line system that will support infrastructure sharing between Internet2 and regional networks, and introduce more power and space-efficient technologies as well as new management software.
    • 11 responses from eight different vendors were received in February and an Internet2 team along with a community team are currently reviewing the responses to select finalists for a best and final phase.
    • Through April and May, the Internet2 team will work with a subset of vendors to resolve questions about products and services with final selection expected by the end of May.
    • Following the best and final phase, we’ll work on contract terms, finalize the design, and have the system implementation started later in 2019.
  • A process to select a new packet design and partners has also begun with an emphasis on community design input before a request for proposal is released.
    • A community team has been convened to guide Internet2 on Layer 2/3 strategy, equipment, and services. A high-level request for information will be released in mid-March with responses due by mid-April.
    • Internet2 staff will hold a workshop with potential partner technology officers to hear more about design strategies and orchestration toolkits that will be available in 2020 when the implementation might occur.
    • Internet2 team will begin modelling designs following the request for information process and a community all hands workshop to discuss options will be held during the summer of 2019. 
    • We expect a resulting request for proposal can be released following community input in August of 2019, with a desire to select partners by the end of 2019.

All of this work is being supported by both Internet2 staff and several community advisory groups coordinated under the guidance of the Network Architecture, Operations and Policy Program Advisory group (NAOPpag). If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, your input and effort will be welcome! Please contact us at