BBN doles out $11.5M for advanced research network development

GENI research network looks for virtualization, security, large network advances

BBN said this week it would give out $11.5 million worth of National Science Foundation grants to 33 research teams to help develop technology for the futuristic network infrastructure project known as GENI. 

The NSF picked BBN to work with the research community to design the Global Environment for Network Innovations or GENI.  Some of the research teams awarded money includes The Renaissance Computing Institute, Duke University, University of California, Davis, The Ohio State University, University of Washington and the University of Illinois.  Others involved in GENI work include AT&T, Cisco, HP, and CA Labs (the research division of CA). 

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According to BBN the core research projects for GENI include:

  • Programmability - researchers may download software into GENI-compatible nodes to control how those nodes behave;
  • Virtualization and Other Forms of Resource Sharing - whenever feasible, nodes implement virtual machines, which allow multiple researchers to simultaneously share the infrastructure and each experiment runs within its own, isolated slice created end-to-end across the experiment's GENI resources;
  • Federation - different parts of the GENI suite are owned and/or operated by different organizations, and the NSF portion of the GENI suite forms only a part of the overall 'ecosystem'; and
  • Experiments: GENI experiments will be an interconnected set of reserved resources on platforms in diverse locations. Researchers will remotely discover reserve, configure, program, debug, operate, manage, and teardown distributed systems established across parts of the GENI environment.

BBN says GENI development is unique in that it simultaneously develops and tests research technologies to gain a rapid understating of new technology's impact on the network.  Currently major work involves ways to discover, schedule and manage large-scale network environments and development of optical backbones, disk farms and sensor networks. BBN said it expects the first prototypes to be up and running in about a year.

 "GENI is making significant progress," said Chip Elliott, GENI Project Director in a release. "Now we are ready to begin an intensive campaign of research experimentation, which will enable us to refine and extend today's prototypes, with a particular focus on security, architecture, workflow tools, user interfaces, and thorough instrumentation."

 In September of 2008, BBN made a similar announcement with plans to spread $12 million in NSF grants to researchers.

BBN has been in the news a lot recently as just this week it won an $8.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for its helicopter alert and threat termination (HALTT) shooter detection and localization systems.

In September got almost $11 million from DARPA to help build self-configuring network technology that would identify traffic, let the network infrastructure prioritize it down to the end user, reallocate bandwidth between users or classes of users, and automatically make quality of service decisions.

BBN has also grabbed over $30 million from DARPA over the past few years to fill out the agency's Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program.  The goal of GALE is to translate and distill foreign language material (television shows and newspapers) in near real-time, highlight salient information, and store the results in a searchable database -- all with more than 90% accuracy by the end of the program. Through this process, GALE would help U.S. analysts recognize critical information in foreign languages quickly so they could act on it in a timely fashion.

And last month, the venerable 60-year old research firm was bought by Raytheon.  BBN has a long history in Internet-oriented breakthroughs, including its work on Internet predecessor the ARPANet and its work with Stanford and University College in London on the first Internet routers.

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