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What is Internet as a data transport system

The present Internet

What is Internet as a data transport system?

"Network services" and "Internet as a data transport system" implies a set of services that an Internet host can access at the Internet Protocol (IP) level. In today’s Internet this is an unreliable best-effort datagram delivery service called Unicast transmission, where packets are sent from a source to a single destination host. There is no-documentary guarantee that packets will arrive, they may be discarded due to transmission errors, equipment failures, or congestion. They may arrive in a different order from which they are sent, and duplicate copies may be delivered. In practical terms, this IP service defines the most basic and universal set of Internet data transport services. The TCP is not a network service; it is a protocol implemented by Internet hosts, which makes use of IP services and provides a reliable bi-directional byte stream over an unreliable datagram network service. Other familiar protocols such as the FTP or WWW’s HTTP are application level protocols that are also implemented on Internet hosts. These protocols use TCP connections as a service and are layered on top of it. Other components of Internet’s infrastructure such as DNS, are also accessed by interacting with various network hosts through the IP protocol.

The Applications perspective

From the perspective of production applications Internet is showing severe strains in terms of performance and reliability due to

Organizations have adopted this vision of networks and networked information to support access, commerce and collaboration in a wholesale manner, and created massive increase in load and very high expectations for performance and reliability to support critical applications.

To circumvent the problems of capacity and reliability various people are finding their own solutions


What is required of the current Internet is

Other issues with today’s Internet

1. Internet has evolved into an almost completely commercial operation dominated by major ISPs. These providers operate major national backbones and offer backbone connectivity to many regional and local ISPs who resell access to the Internet. They also provide access directly to the customers in competition with these same small ISPs. (example- Sprint and MCI in the USA and VSNL in India). In the US a number of government backbones are also part of national Internet and support federal agency missions ( for example- ESNET for Department of Energy and NASA Science Internet). Even these are increasingly contracted out to ISPs for implementation.

2. Connectivity to the network by individuals and small businesses has also become an increasingly serious bottleneck. Large corporations or educational institutions can afford very high-speed, dedicated links to an ISP. This capacity is then distributed to individual users within the organisation through private LANs. But the gap between the capacity of such institutional networks and the bandwidth affordable and available to a small business or an individual grows ever wider. Practically speaking they still have very limited alternatives

3. Problem of two ISPs.

If there are two hosts A and B

It appears many performance problems occur at interchange points between ISPs. ISPs "peer", i.e- exchange routing information and traffic at various interchange points.

4. Assignment and management of network numbers. Historically these numbers were "owned" by end-user organisations. An organisation could move from one ISP to another, or contract with multiple ISPs to carry organisation’s connectivity to broader Internet.

Internet is now running out of network numbers and until new IPV6, with a much larger address space replaces IPV4, it will be difficult to manage the existing number space.

5. Internet connectivity is expanding more rapidly outside US than within it. Internet is now used heavily to support international access to information resources, international collaboration, and to some extent international commerce.

When Internet was primarily supporting research and educational communities, most of the international links were jointlyfunded by organisations such as NSF in US and various scientific organisations in other countries. As the network commercialised, particularly in the US, the framework for funding the growth of international links has not kept pace. From users point of view links across the Atlantic and Pacific tend to be so heavily congested that they are often useless; and it is increasingly necessary to mirror data in Europe and Asis. Another response to congestion and bandwidth constraints is the use of caching servers, now deployed on a large scale within UK’s higher educational community.

There are two issues

6. Overall reliability and robustness of the Internet. Organizations increasingly rely on Internet to support critical elements of day-to-day operations. Internet is vulnerable to

These problems are subject of complex technical and administrative debates about responsibilities of ISPs at various levels of the service hierarchy to validate and filter routing information that they transfer across their boundaries to other providers.

7. Attacks on computers- networked computers are easily accessible from remote sites. Network infrastructure itself becomes both a victim of attack (e.g.-router break-ins, injection of falsified routing information to hijack traffic destined for specific networks) as well as a tool to mount denial of service attacks against hosts attached to networks.("Smurf " attack is to generate megabits per second of traffic aimed at a target host, saturating routers and trunks along the way).

An extensive effort is required to upgrade router configurations and routing protocols to resist these types of attacks and to help isolate and track them when they do occur.

Shifting nature of applications on the commodity Internet

1. Inspite of all its problems, Internet has been hugely successful.

2. In the early 1990s higher educational community in the US accepted the vision of electronic access to shared, network based information resources. Internet is affecting the practices of scholarly communication.

Chronic performance and reliability issues provoked some institutions to question the wisdom of depending on the commodity Internet to reach critical information resources. Some crucial infrastructure components such as interorganisational authentication and access management, are still largely underdeveloped. Lack of these facilities are a serious barrier to networked information access.

Today’s new applications

Today’s new applications are content oriented.

Next generation applications and new networking initiatives

Current Internet cannot reliably support the existing massive volume of primarily character based, interactive traffic or Web access. Yet there is a whole selection of new highly interactive, and multi-media rich Internet applications, of great interest to research and educational community. Thee are important to those who are focussed on ways in which networks and networked information can potentially transform teaching, learning and scholarly communication. Higher educational and research communities are eager to explore and gain experience with these new applications.

Though major ISPs are certainly interested in this new class of applications, it makes sense that large-scale test-bed networks are being developed outside the commodity commercial Internet to address the needs of the research and educational community.

Internet2 and NGI

Two major initiatives are emerging to establish such testbed network environments:

Internet 2

Internet2 was developed during 1997 by the Networking and Telecommunications Task Force of EDUCOM, an association of higher educational institutions concerned information technology applications.

The not-for-profit University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) was established in late 1997.

Funds for development of Internet2 and prototyping advanced applications to run on it are acquired through

4 major components of Internet2 initiative are

1. Development of a high-speed backbone among a group of perhaps 100 institutions of higher education that can support and serve as testbeds for advanced applications. This will be at least OC-3 and perhaps OC-12 in some areas, with a commitment to ongoing bandwidth upgrades. At least initially, the NSF vBNS experimental network will provide much of the backbone connectivity.

2. High speed institutional connectivity to Internet 2 backbone.

  1. Commitment to upgrade local infrastructure to support high speed networking. Move from 10 Mbits/sec. Ethernet to new technologies like 100Mbits/sec. Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, or ATM, so that capabilities within campus are consistent with those linking the campus to other Internet2 sites. This costly part of the programme is essential for a meaningful deployment of advanced applications.
  2. Commitments to deployment of new network services, both on an on-campus and wide-area basis, which support advanced capabilities like Quality of service guarantees and multicasting.

Mission of Internet2

Facilitate and coordinate the development, deployment, operation and technology transfer of advanced, network-based applications and network services to further U.S. leadership in research and higher education and accelerate the availability of new services and applications on the Internet.

Goals of Internet2

The intent of I2 is not to develop a separate replacement for the present Internet and then disconnect the participating institutions from the existing worldwide Internet. The goal is to create a testbed for advanced applications. The Internet2 sites will continue to be connected to Internet.

Non-participants ability to experiment with and participate in the development of certain next-generation network applications will be constrained. Use of Internet2 experimental network will likely be limited by an acceptable policy. For example

The main goals of this project are

Who are participating in Internet2

Begun in October 1996 by 34 US research universities, Internet2 today has over 160 member universities which are working with corporate and affiliate members.

Member universities

Faculty, staff and students at Internet2 universities are carrying out much, and form the largest part, of the Internet2 project. In joining the Internet2 collaborative effort, the chancellor or president of each university has committed significant resources towards upgrading campus networks, connecting to regional gigaPoP efforts, and the providing the facilities for advanced application development.

Some important Universities participating in I2

Over 160 universities are leading the Internet project. They are working with leaders from industry and government.

Arizona State University

Boston University

California Institute of Technology

California State University System

Carnegie Mellon University

Colorado State University

Columbia University

Cornell University

Drexel University

East Carolina University

Florida State University

George Washington University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia State University

Harvard University

Iowa State University

Johns Hopkins University

Kansas State University

Lehigh University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Michigan State University

Michigan Technological University

North Carolina State University

Ohio State University Main

Ohio University

Oklahoma State University

Oregon State University

Pennsylvania State University Main

Portland State University

Princeton University

Purdue University Main

SUNY - Stony Brook

Stanford University

State University of New York, Buffalo

Syracuse University

Texas A & M University

Texas Tech University

Tufts University

Tulane University

University of Akron

University of Alabama

University of Alabama, Birmingham

University of Alabama, Huntsville

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

University of Arizona

University of Arkansas Main

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Davis

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California Office of the President

University of California, Riverside

University of California, San Diego

University of California, San Francisco

University of California, Santa Barbara

University of Central Florida

University of Chicago

University of Cincinnati Main

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Colorado, Denver

University of Connecticut

University of Delaware

University of Florida

University of Georgia

University of Hawaii

University of Houston

University of Idaho

University of Illinois, Chicago

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

University of Iowa

University of Kansas

University of Kentucky

University of Louisville

University of Maine

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

University of Maryland, College Park

University of Massachusetts

University of Memphis

University of Miami

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

University of Missouri, Columbia

University of Missouri, St. Louis

University of Montana

University of Nebraska

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

University of Nevada, Reno

University of New Hampshire

University of New Mexico Main

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

University of North Dakota

University of North Texas

University of Notre Dame

University of Oklahoma, Norman

University of Oregon

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

University of Rochester

University of South Carolina, Columbia

University of South Dakota

University of South Florida

University of Southern California

University of Southern Mississippi

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

University of Tennessee, Memphis

University of Texas, Austin

University of Texas, Dallas

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

University of Utah

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin, Madison

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

University of Wyoming

Utah State University

Vanderbilt University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Tech

Wake Forest University

Washington State University

Washington University, Saint Louis

Wayne State University

West Virginia University

Yale University

Corporate partners

Corporate partners have committed to supporting the efforts of member universities through close collaboration, including contributions of more than $1 million over the course of the project. Industry participation is key to realizing Internet2's goal of broad diffusion of advanced networking capabilities. Corporate sponsors and corporate members are also working with the university and affiliate members of the Internet2 project to develop, test and deploy advanced Internet technologies and applications.

Some of the important corporate partners are


Advanced Network & Services

3Com Corporation



Cabletron Systems

Cisco Systems

Cisco solutions are the networking foundation of thousands of companies, universities, utilities and government agencies worldwide.

FORE Systems

ITC DeltaCom

IBM Corporation

Lucent Technologies

Microsoft Research

Nortel Networks

MCI WorldCom

Newbridge Networks

Qwest Communications

StarBurst Communications


Affiliate members

Affiliate members are organizations with a strong interest in the mission and goals of the Internet2 project. Many affiliate members are providing leadership in developing the Internet2 gigaPoPs.

Army Systems Engineering Office

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

Bradley University

DePaul University

Desert Research Institute

Ellemtel Utvecklings AB

Florida Gulf Coast University

Fraunhofer Center for Research in Computer Graphics, Inc.

Illinois State University

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Jet Propulsion Laboratories



Merit Network, Inc.

National Institutes of Health

Northwest Academic Computing Consortium





Survivors of the Shoah-Visual History Foundation

State University System of Florida

State University of New York (SUNY)

Southeastern Universities Research Association


University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

University of North Carolina, General Administration

International Links

As of on 1st October 1999, following networks outside the US had associated themselves with Internet2:


DANTE (pan-European association)

SWITCH (Switzerland)

RCCN (Portugal)

POL-34 (Poland)

ARNES (Slovenia)

GRNET (Greece)

RESTENA (Luxembourg)

CESnet (Czech Republic)

CANARIE (Canada)

Stichting SURF (Netherlands)

NORDUnet (Nordic countries)

TERENA (pan-European association)


DFN-Verein (Germany)


JAIRC (Japan)

SingAREN (Singapore)

CUDI (Mexico)

APAN (Asia-Pacific region)

Israel-IUCC (Israel)

AAIREP (Australia)

HEAnet (Ireland)

TAnet (Taiwan)


Fundacion Internet2 Argentina (Argentina)

RNP2 (Brazil)

EnRED (Latin American association)

REDIris (Spain)




SURFnet (Stichting SURF)



IUCC-Internet-2 (Israel-IUCC)



DANTE (INFN-GARR, DFN and others)


Asia-Pacific Rim Universities (APRU):

CA*NetII/3 (STAR TAP, Chicago)

NORDUnet (Abilene pop, NYC)

SURFnet (Abilene pop, NYC)

TransPAC (STAR TAP, Chicago)




CA*NetII/3 MIRnet (Russia)




TAnet (Taiwan)

IUCC (Israel)

Internet2 Working Groups have been established to explore specific technical challenges related to enabling advanced network applications. Some of these challenges include implementing scalable quality of service, IPv6, and multicasting. Working group members include representatives from Internet2 universities, as well as affiliate and corporate members.

Internet2 Initiatives such as I2-DSI (Internet2 Distributed Storage Infrastructure), I2-DVN (Internet2 Digital Video Network) and the QBone (Quality of service Backbone test bed) have been undertaken to explore and deploy new network technologies needed realize the Internet2 project's goal of enabling advanced applications.


A central staff supports the efforts of individuals from the university, corporate and affiliate members. With the rapid growth of the Internet2 project, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) was established in September 1997 to provide an organizational home for the effort. UCAID, along with its partners, undertook the Abilene Project in support of Internet2 in April 1998. UCAID's Board of Trustees and Advisory Councils provide guidance for the Internet2 project.


The QBone is a computer network backbone that should bring guaranteed priority service to the Internet. The QBone-short for "quality of service backbone"-project of 25 universities is part of the larger Internet2. QBone aims to find technologies to allow computer network administrators to assign priorities to certain Internet network traffic.

Ultimately, QBone will give users a guarantee that their certain piece of Internet traffic, like video-on-demand-will get good service without random delays. With QBone, the user essentially asks the network for a contract or a guarantee that this traffic will not be delayed or disrupted. This is not a contract in the legal sense, but more of an assurance of delivery of a certain level of service. This sort of agreement is easy enough in a single network, but the QBone effort aims to bring quality of service across networks.

Electronic messages are sent as data clusters called packets. A brief e-mail message might be one packet while video could take thousands. Network routers methodically shoot the packets to their destination, usually in correct order, but congestion can result in transmission of some packets via different routes or even dropping them altogether. That's OK for e-mail, but when it's 30 images per second, those transmissions must follow in sequence, or the movie isn't smooth. There's no method to distinguish between crucial data-a medical operation using video-and regular traffic like a student's spring break pictures or e-mail.

Testing Configurations

A February demonstration of Abilene showed the potential of a quality of service Internet, as a doctor in Ohio performed gall-bladder surgery with computer network video assistance from a surgeon in Washington, D.C.

The Abilene Project

The Abilene,is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID).This most advanced research and education network in the US was launched on February 24, 1999 delivering high performance network services to 37 universities. Abilene serves as a test bed for Internet applications of the future such as distance learning, tele-medicine and digital libraries that will become commonplace in the future. Qwest Communications, Cisco, Nortel Networks and Indiana University contributed equipment and services with an estimated value of $500 million over three years to deliver Abilene. As an Internet2 backbone network, Abilene spans over 10,000 miles and operates at 2.4 gigabits per second, a speed 45,000 times faster than a 56K modem. More than 70 Internet2 universities and research facilities are expected to connect to Abilene by the end of 1999.

Abilene is comprised of best of breed technology and resources from its partners including 10,000 miles of Qwest Communications' advanced fiber optic network and engineering support. In addition, Cisco has provided high-speed communications equipment that enables the integration of data, voice and video, and on-going engineering support for all eleven nodes of the Abilene network. Nortel Networks has provided network planning and engineering services, network management and optical networking capable of a transmission rate of 10 gigabits per second. Indiana University runs Abilene's Network Operation Center and has provided Abilene with problem determination and resolution and asset management. A primary goal of Abilene is to support the efforts of the Internet2 project. To enable collaboration among university and corporate Internet2 members, Abilene will also connect corporate research labs; among the first was IBM's research facilities in Watson, N.Y. and Almaden, Calif.

Abilene Connected Universities

Internet2 GigaPoPs and Universities Connecting to Abilene, February 1999

Arizona State University

Baylor College of Medicine

Boston University

California Institute of Technology

CalREN2 GigaPoP

Case Western Reserve University

Colorado State University

Florida GigaPoP

Front Range GigaPoP

George Mason University

George Washington University

Georgetown University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Great Plains Network GigaPoP

Harvard University

Indiana GigaPoP

Indiana University

Kansas State University


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Michigan State University

Mid Atlantic Crossroads

(MAX) GigaPoP


North Dakota State University

Northern Crossroads

(NOX) GigaPoP


OARnet GigaPoP

Ohio State University Ohio Supercomputer Center

Oklahoma State University

Old Dominion University

Onenet GigaPoP

Oregon State University

Pacific Northwest GigaPoP

Pennsylvania State University

Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center GigaPoP

Portland State University

Purdue University

Rice University

South Dakota School of Mines

South Dakota State University

Southern Crossroads GigaPoP

Stanford University

Texas A&M University

Texas GigaPoP

Tufts University

Tulane University

University of Akron

University of Arizona

University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas Medical Sciences

University of California at Davis

University of California at Berkeley

University of California at Irvine

University of California at Los Angeles

University of California at Riverside

University of California at San Francisco

University of California at Santa Cruz

University of California Office of the President

University of Chicago

University of Cincinnati

University of Houston

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

University of Kansas

University of Maryland

University of Michigan

University of Nebraska

University of North Dakota

University of Oklahoma

University of Oregon

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

University of South Dakota

University of Southern California

University of Virginia

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

University of Wyoming

Vanderbilt University

Virginia Tech

Washington State University

Wayne State University

Wright State University

Abilene is named for a frontier railroad established in Abilene, Kansas during the 1860s. Like the railroad changed the way people worked and lived, the Abilene Project is expected to transform the work of researchers and educators into the next millennium.

As with Internet2, Abilene supports the Next Generation Internet (NGI), an initiative among federal research agencies. Abilene is expected to help university researchers to collaborate with federal agencies on research and development of advanced network technologies and applications like QBone.

Further, the Abilene network should link with existing federal research networks, such as the very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS). The vBNS is a network granted under a cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and MCI to NSF-approved institutions of research and higher learning. vBNS is expected to go away in the next year or so -- replaced by a commercial network - but for now continues to play a key role in the Internet2 project.



Abilene is expected to remain a testbed network,for researchers to try out new ideas,and a place where they can fail. S. Keshav in 1997, wrote the following , "The Holy Grail of computer networking is to design a network that has the flexibility and low cost of the Internet, yet offers the end-to-end quality-of-service guarantees of the telephone network."



Topics still to be incorporated




I2 and libraries

The NGI initiative in brief.