May 05, 2005 03:35PM
By Don Kindred
The ever-changing Internet is feeding on itself. What has happened on the web in the last ten years is absolutely mind boggling. As technology keeps moving us forward, it has taken a logarithmic effect; the more it grows, the faster it grows. We are now seeing an increase in usage as high-speed Internet connections reached 37.9 million subscribers in the U.S. last year, according to a report released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population is now able to subscribe to broadband. That’s a huge growth rate in a very short time.
The Internet has just had its 35th birthday this year and what it is today couldn’t have even been imagined those few short years ago.
Introducing Internet2…Imagine a professor teaching hundreds of students worldwide from a desktop computer located in his or her office. Imagine two orchestras separated by hundreds of miles playing symphonies in perfect synchronization. Imagine surgeons providing live assistance to medical personnel in remote areas. This is today’s reality brought to you by Internet2, limited only by your imagination.
Internet2 is the preeminent national computer network for research and education aimed at developing and deploying advanced computer technologies for the networked world. It also fosters partnerships and collaboration between universities, government labs and corporations.
Internet2 uses Abilene, an advanced, yet stable high-speed, low latency backbone network to connect over 200 universities, government labs and corporations via gigaPoP’s – the regional networks that connect to Abilene. It also connects to many international networks, allowing Internet2 members to collaborate with researchers around the world.
Internet2 work focuses on the following areas: Applications drive the networks by allowing communication and cooperation between researchers. The primary applications are tele-immersion, virtual laboratories, digital libraries, and distributed instruction Middleware is the software that binds the applications layer and the network layer and provides services for applications such as directories and security. Directories, identifiers, authentication, authorization and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) are examples of middleware. For more information, see the middleware primer. - Advanced Networks – while the research is connected to applications and middleware, Internet2 strives to provide cutting edge network infrastructure, such as Abilene and the gigaPoPs, as well as connections to international networks.- Engineering is closely allied with the advanced networks and identifies, develops, and tests technologies that make the infrastructure work such as IPSEC, IPv6, quality of service, and measurement of network traffic. - Partnerships – Internet2 fosters collaboration among universities, government labs and corporations because no Internet research occurs in a vacuum. Successful development and deployment of useful, large-scale applications inevitably requires the cooperation of many people.
In a big and complex world, where communications and partnerships are global, and where technology dependence only grows, the need for innovative and revolutionary applications is more than obvious. The ingenious minds of researchers devise new ways that exploit the high speed of massive information transfer enabled by the Internet2 network to create applications that revolutionize human processes and interaction. For example, Fujitsu Labs of America at College Park (FLA-CP) hosts the School of the Internet (SOI) whose mission is to support advanced videoconferencing between universities. On November 9 of last year, FLA-CP broadcast its first live remote lecture from its studio to a classroom at Keio University in Japan. The lecture traveled via FLA-CP’s MAX connection over Internet2’s high-speed network and demonstrated the abilities of leading edge network properties like the next generation protocol - IPv6. We’ll look more into IPv6 later as this is exciting new stuff as well.
Technology is feeding on itself, no doubt about it. When you think about it, the discovery of electricity was barely over a hundred years ago and what we’ve done with it in its comparatively short lifetime reinforces that statement. Now, what we do with it in the next hundred years is a huge responsibility, because of that very growth rate. We had best be sure it has a good diet to thrive on. It is, after all, our Internet. b