'New Internet' moves one step forward

Experts gather to discuss next-generation Internet.

About 120 folks are gathering Friday at a town hall meeting to discuss the future of a fairly new initiative called the Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI).

GENI is a National Science Foundation- (NSF-) planned experimental facility that will let researchers conduct experiments that go beyond the restraints of today’s Internet, says Larry Peterson, chair of the GENI Planning Group and professor and chair of the computer science department at Princeton University.

NSF first proposed GENI last summer. GENI researchers will not simply be looking for “a new version of IP,” he says.

He says a project like GENI is needed for many reasons, but two key reasons are because the industry will not solve the problems of today’s Internet because “there’s no incentive,” to do so and the academic community views any research that’s not backward compatible to today’s Internet as “risky.”

The original GENI design was presented at the town hall meeting. It includes a national and eventually international fiber optic network with programmable routers, clusters at the edge sites, wireless subnets and peering to the Internet at MAE East and MAE West. Peterson points out this will be necessary so researches have access to the vast amount of content on today’s public Internet.

Peterson also talked about some of the requirements of GENI, which include architectural and service neutrality, virtualization, and real users.

The group is also putting together the GENI Community Consortium (GCC), which Peterson says will be run similarly to the IETF with working groups. The GCC’s working groups, which are primarily focusing on design at this point, are research co-ordination, facilities architecture, backbone network, wireless subnet, distributed services and education and outreach.

One of the prime goals of GENI is to “change the nature of networked and distributed systems design,” Peterson says.

He says that doesn’t mean the current Internet gets tossed out; the group hopes to design an Internet for tomorrow that’s more secure, available, manageable and better suited for computing in the next decade.

It may take five to seven years for the GENI facility to be built, but the group expects research to begin the first year after construction begins.

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