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RENCI Selects Infinera's Bandwidth Virtualization Capabilities for N.C. Research Network

RENCI, Infinera Collaborate on Programmable Optical Network Proposal for GENI

The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) has selected Infinera to support its research on the experimental network testbed dubbed BEN (Breakable Experimental Network), which links RENCI to sites at three universities in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.

In addition, RENCI, Duke University and Infinera are collaborating on a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the GENI project, a federally backed research effort to build a nationwide networking testbed to enable the exploration of technologies for a future Internet with enhanced security, stability, and advanced features.

The Infinera equipment will support RENCI's research agenda for BEN, which serves as a testbed for experimentation with disruptive technologies such as enabling researcher access to the dark fiber, experiments with new transmission, modulation, and coding formats, interaction between the optical plane and the packet forwarding plane in the network, network virtualization and remote visualization of high-definition images on visualization walls using multiple optical wavelengths. BEN connects sites at Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RENCI's main office in Chapel Hill and enables university researchers to test their software and hardware by placing equipment at these sites. North Carolina's MCNC, which manages the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), is also collaborating with RENCI on BEN and its offices in Research Triangle Park will connect to the network.

For its experiments using BEN, RENCI chose an Infinera Digital Optical Network because Infinera's scalability, flexibility, and ease of operations make it an ideal platform for an advanced research network where researchers are experimenting with cutting-edge technologies and applications using large volumes of bandwidth and requiring frequent reconfiguration. Infinera's Bandwidth Virtualization capabilities also enabled the joint GENI proposal.

GENI's Vision for a "Sliceable, Programmable" Network
Last year, the NSF launched an ambitious multimillion dollar project, the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), to design and construct a large-scale network that will enable the worldwide research community to test ideas and clean-slate designs in a range of technology areas including network design, distributed systems, and cyber-security. GENI's aim is to forge new solutions to problems facing today's Internet including inadequate security, reliability, manageability and scalability. RENCI, Duke University, and Infinera have collaborated on a proposal that envisages a sliceable and highly programmable optical network that connects diverse storage and computing resources to enable dynamic, reliable network provisioning. End-to-end slicing, which combines provisioning of edge computer and storage resources as well as core network resources, is considered one of the top technical risks by GENI.

The Infinera optical platform can deliver these advanced experimental features because of its innovative design. Based on large-scale photonic integrated circuits (PICs) which integrate more than 60 optical devices on a pair of chips, the Infinera system delivers bandwidth in increments of 100 Gigabits/second (Gb/s) and is scalable to 800 Gb/s today and more with Infinera's next-generation ILS2 line system. The Infinera paradigm of Bandwidth Virtualization creates a "pool" of available bandwidth that can be deployed and reconfigured to deliver a wide range of optical services, from 1 Gb/s to 40 Gb/s services today, and 100 Gb/s services in the future. The Infinera PIC-based optical engine enables a highly flexible pool of bandwidth, which can be configured through service adapters to support a wide variety of services, with the entire architecture controllable with advanced GMPLS-powered network software.

The RENCI-Duke-Infinera proposal for GENI leverages the strengths of each organization. RENCI and Duke will use ORCA -- a software framework developed at Duke -- to implement a model for the GENI management plane and deploy it on BEN in order to create a 'GENI island' -- a miniature version of the future GENI testbed. Infinera has used its innovative photonic integrated circuits and Bandwidth Virtualization feature to enable an unsurpassed level of flexibility and programmability in an optical platform for this project.

"We partnered with Infinera because we needed a scalable and flexible solution to accommodate our wide-ranging research agenda for BEN, and because we needed a product that would meet the demands for cutting-edge research necessary to participate in the GENI initiative," said Ilia Baldine, manager of network research and infrastructure at RENCI. "Infinera's solutions provided us with the best pathway to create a high-speed reconfigurable experimental network and to become a leader in developing the next generation of advanced research networks."

"We are excited to partner with RENCI on its Breakable Experimental Network and on the GENI proposal," said Infinera Chief Technology Officer Drew Perkins. "Leading-edge research like that envisaged by GENI will play a vital role in developing new technologies for a more powerful, flexible, scalable Internet that can support the applications of the future."

The Infinera DTN is a Digital ROADM for long-haul and metro core networks, combining high-capacity DWDM transport, integrated digital bandwidth management, and GMPLS-powered service intelligence in a single platform.

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