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Reimagining the Internet: $20 Million NSF Grant Supports New Collaborative Project by Research and Education Community

Sep 18, 2019, by Matthew Zekauskas
Tags: Advanced Network Services, Advanced Networking, Recent Posts, Research, Research & Education Networks

Internet2 is pleased to partner with community members on the newly announced NSF-funded FABRIC project, which aims to create a platform for testing novel internet architectures that could enable a faster, more secure Internet. FABRIC is a collaborative project involving eighteen institutions that will provide a nationwide testbed for reimagining how data can be stored, computed and moved through shared infrastructure. 

The project core team includes RENCI - Renaissance Computing Institute at University of North Carolina, University of Kentucky, Clemson University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and DOE Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). In addition, the team includes a number of partner organizations: Columbia University, Florida International University, Georgia Tech, Illinois NCSA, Internet2, Rutgers University, SRI International, Texas Advanced Computing Center, The University of Chicago, The University of Utah, UC San Diego, University of Virginia, and US Ignite.

FABRIC will consist of storage, computational and network hardware nodes connected by dedicated high-speed optical links. In addition to the interconnected deeply-programmable core nodes deployed across the country, FABRIC nodes will include major national research facilities such as universities, national labs and supercomputing centers that generate and process enormous scientific data sets.

Building on the Cloud Connect service offering, Internet2 will provide the FABRIC project with direct peering to leading commercial cloud providers through the existing regional and national infrastructure. Specifically, Internet2 technical staff will be working with the FABRIC team to extend experimental topologies to commercial public clouds providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Howard Pfeffer, Internet2 President and CEO, will also be serving on the FABRIC Scientific Advisory Committee.

Anticipated FABRIC topology at the end of construction. Image courtesy RENCI
Click to see a full-sized version. (Full-sized image will open in a new window.)

The construction phase of the project is expected to last four years, with the first year dedicated to software development, finalizing technical designs, and prototyping. Subsequent years will focus on rolling out the platform’s hardware to participating sites across the nation and connecting it to major national computing facilities. Ultimately, experimenter communities will be able to attach new instruments or hardware resources to FABRIC’s uniquely extensible design, allowing the infrastructure to grow and adapt to changing research needs over time.

Read the full announcement