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Bandwidth on Demand: Dynamic Connectivity Supporting Advanced Research Collaboration
  



The Challenge Faced by Collaborating Researchers

As international research collaboration increases, it is becoming increasingly common for researchers to need to make frequent transfers of large amounts of data (terabytes) at high capacity (several hundred Mbps) for several hours at a time (or longer) between different, variable end points.  These virtual research teams need the confidence that their data will be transferred accurately, securely, and in time to be used to deliver research results.

 

If it is known in advance when exactly the data transfer needs to take place, dedicated network capacity can be manually reserved for the stipulated timeslots on the required paths but this is time-consuming and cumbersome particularly as, for researchers collaborating on an international scale, the routes involved traverse several different, independently managed networks, or domains.
 

Flexibility to Meet Researchers’ Requirements

The GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity service (also known as Bandwidth on Demand) would allow users to request dedicated bandwidth on-demand across multiple domains between participating end points – a flexible, end-to-end, point-to-point international connectivity solution for data transport.  The data transport capacity dedicated to a connection can range from 1Mbit/s to 10Gbit/s, for a period of time from a few minutes to several weeks.  The on-demand connections are created using an automated provisioning system which requires only a small lead time (less than an hour) between placing a valid request and the multi-domain bandwidth reservation being made.

The automated provisioning system is an integral part of the Bandwidth on Demand service, necessary to be able to respond rapidly to capacity reservation requests made at short notice or for short periods of time.  The GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity service operates the AutoBAHN automated provisioning system and provides the software to other network domains wishing to use it. The system is interoperable via open standards  with other provisioning systems that are also used by networks participating in providing multi-domain Bandwidth on Demand involving GÉANT, such as Internet2.

AutoBAHN – Automated Bandwidth Allocation across Heterogeneous Networks – has been purposely designed to be a multi-domain automated network reservation and provisioning system, deployable to complement and extend existing management systems and to support interdomain processes. 
For more information on AutoBAHN please click here

It is proposed to launch GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity as a production service during the lifetime of the GÉANT project.  The service is being developed to be compatible with diverse endpoints which may be controlled by AutoBAHN or by other Bandwidth on Demand solutions, including Phosphorus, Harmony and OSCARS, and in particular collaboration within DICE ensures trans-Atlantic compatibility of the service.
  

The Benefits of Bandwidth on Demand

With GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity, an international team of researchers who frequently require to transfer large data sets between differing end points would quickly be able to reserve the bandwidth required on each end-to-end path for the length of time they wish to use it.  This would provide them with their own dedicated capacity on request when needed, allowing data transfers to take place between the required end points segregated from other network traffic and therefore highly secure and reliable.  When not reserved, rather than lying idle, the network capacity would be available for general use (or reservation) by other network users, helping to promote efficient use of network resources whilst providing the flexibility to meet the particular needs of specific groups of researchers.

The benefits of this service are:

  • Meets User Needs:  users reserve and access the bandwidth they need, when they need it, allowing flexible re-use of capacity
  • Flexible end-points: the end-points of the connections can be selected by the users from participating destinations when the connection is reserved
  • Flexible usage: the network paths are only reserved for timeslots when they need to be used, freeing them for alternative use at other times
  • Reliable and high quality: the bandwidth offered by the advanced provisioning service is not oversubscribed in any of the networks carrying the traffic, meaning the service is reliable and high quality
  • Rapid, easy service: reservation involves only a small lead-time due to the automated provisioning of the bandwidth
  • Accurate and reliable: set-up and administration are accurate and reliable due to the automation of the provisioning
  • Secure: the carried traffic is isolated from other traffic.

  
Potential Applications

Bandwidth on Demand is a service with the potential to satisfy the requirements of researchers in many different academic disciplines.  One example is radio-astronomy, where the technique of VLBI – very long baseline interferometry – facilitated by high-capacity networks (known as eVLBI) requires very large data sets to be transferred from its collection sites at radio-telescopes around the world to a central processing point (in Europe, this is in the Netherlands).  Use of Bandwidth on Demand in this case could provide radio-astronomers with the convenience of bandwidth when it is required, reserved as and when needed, whilst benefiting other network users by avoiding congestion on the shared IP network.

Bandwidth on Demand is also of potential benefit in the field of medicine, where technology increasingly supports efficient use of scarce specialist consultancy and surgical expertise by supporting the transfer of high-quality images or use of high-definition video, often between different countries or even across continents.  A delicate specialist heart operation, for example, could use high-definition video to permit guidance and direction to be provided “live” by an expert surgeon in a separate location from the site of the operation.  Bandwidth on Demand would provide the freedom from congestion required to guarantee the high quality video images critical to the success of such a technique, available at short notice to coincide with the timing of the operation.

Another example of where Bandwidth on Demand could potentially improve the efficiency of important medical collaboration is in the assessment and treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy sufferers.  For more information on this success story, please read our full case study.

For more information about GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity and AutoBAHN, please contact info@geant.net.

     
    
  


See Also

Network Performance Services 
   
For more information about GÉANT Dynamic Connectivity and AutoBAHN, please contact info@geant.net