National LambdarailTerm Paper

Pages: 7 (1754 words)   |  Style: n/a  |  Bibliography Sources: 3

National LambdaRail

Assumptions for the Future

Transport Methods

Network Infrastructure

Services & Cost

Software & Hardware


Follow the People

A leader follows the people, Benjamin Disraeli's ironic introductory comment contends. Smith, and Cohon purport this "aptly describes the feelings of many college and university administrators as they develop institutional plans for information technology (it) that will support research, teaching, and learning in the coming decades."

The National Lambda Rail (NLR), a national fiber optic infrastructure located at Indiana University, "provides the research community with direct control over a nationwide optical fiber infrastructure, enabling researchers support at the application level, and networking level experiments." (Tash 32) primary goal of NLR, as it serves various communities of computational scientists, distributed systems researchers, and networking researchers, is to bring these diverse research communities together to confront and solve complex challenges "of building network architecture, end-to-end performance, and scaling." (Tash 32-33) One challenge confronting the National LambdaRail Network, noted by Smith and Cohon, is to effectively fulfill the core mission of knowledge transfer.

Currently, for convenience, yet potentially costing global inefficiencies and lack of interoperability, a number of core academia services are currently replicated across institutions. Unfortunately, despite repeated claims that technology will transform learning outcomes, central leadership continues to be reluctant to deny requests for potentially promising new teaching and learning technologies.

Twenty-five years ago, the world of people and leaders included somewhat rare, relatively large computers, primarily used for calculations. By 1990, an individual could easily find personal computers (PCs) in most settings.

During the past 15 years, albeit, computers have become a means for:

business and personal communication, representing new forms of knowledge management, visualizing complex data, managing customer relation, storing transferring music, editing video, gaming, grid computing, along with daily new usages. (Smith, and Cohon)

Confronting Complex Challenges

Through exploring the National LambdaRail Network, this researcher notes that implications for science in the realm of NLR extend beyond the academic institutions' national boundaries, and encompass the creation of new disciplines, as well as, their value to science's and social realities' ever-changing worlds. Challenges accompanying virtual centers, for example, extend far beyond approaches for fixed centers, with vital differences including focus on coordination of research activities at scattered sites. Evaluations and concept clarifications for grouping evaluations require boundaries of various models connecting dispersed centers operated by dispersed institutions have to be established.

Relationships to host universities, cooperative agreements, profit-making and non-profit making institutes; ownership issues on patents and licenses involved, and venture capital support" (Tash 32-33) also have to be appraised. In regard to the NLR, implications for science extend beyond academic institutions, national boundaries, and the actual creation of new disciplines, as well as, their value to a changing world of science and social realities. In addition, as a number of newer conglomerates involve State and Federal participation, evaluators have to invest particular focus to conflicts of interests, as well as, the idea of development and disclosure process. Because several consortia focus on interdisciplinary research, the evaluator also needs "to trace the interactions as new ideas on technologies," (Tash 33) evaluating emerging solutions for complex problems. Due to the number of diverse issues, a team of evaluators with experts in various disciplines and organizational analysis capabilities normallyconduct the evaluation. (Tash 32-33) Assumptions for the Future the current, unprecedented, sometimes seemingly overwhelming, technological changes emerge from a diversity of sources, Smith and Cohon note. As they explore the question: "What leadership strategies are appropriate in such a complex, dynamic, and unpredictable context... [that, due to] complexity and dynamism of it, especially in academia, now warrants thinking about it in different terms: as an it ecosystem?" Smith and Cohon relate assumptions to needed future changes in it. (Smith, and Cohon) the following figure (1), a concept sketch, depicts a high-definition research environment with:

100-Megapixel data fusion screen on the right screen, super-high-definition video teleconferencing on the left screen, and an auto-stereo 3D image of earthquake data, seemingly suspended in "mid air."

Figure 1: High-Definition Research Environment (National LambdaRail)

Problems in the past, proposing the presumption that students using a laptop will "obviously" improve learning outcomes, vendors sold and equipped K-12 districts and universities with laptops. Finding a study, nevertheless, "...that reports anything more than anecdotes about use or user satisfaction at 'laptop universities'...proves challenging. (Smith and Cohon)

One study by the Office of Technology for Education and the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon, found some collaborative learning behaviors were, in fact, discouraged by laptop ownership. Smith and Cohon, purport that in addition to a limited number of studies suggesting positive benefits from students owning laptops, "The point is not that universal laptop ownership is not a good thing; rather, that before widely deploying a technology, [researchers] should understand both what problems...[they] are trying to address and what...[they] already know about how that technology might solve the problems."

Transport Methods on April 20, 2006, the NLR announced it inaugurated a project to provision an intelligently managed nationwide peering and transit program. The initial participants include the following NLR members:

the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC),

Front Range GigaPoP (FRGP),

Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP),

Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) and Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC). (National Lambdarail Launches)

The NLR, noted as a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies "provides a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications." (National Lambdarail Launches) NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation's scientists and researchers. This project, known as National TransitRail, intends to utilize "commodity and peering traffic to improve network performance and reduce the overall cost of Internet services to NLR members."

Utilizing NLR's nationwide network fiber and optronics infrastructure at layer 2 and layer 3, the initial NLR participants are working to efficiently direct traffic as quickly as possible to the target network/organization, reducing the number of 'hops' required for the data to get to its destination. The team is also investigating the balance between peering sessions and transit routes at geographically dispersed locations.

NLR's national footprint and large traffic flows will help drive many larger-scale peering relationships over time," said Tom West, NLR President. "We believe that it is time for the research and education community to further exploit the reliability and redundancy that a national peering and transit infrastructure affords. This is the first step in that direction." (National Lambdarail Launches)

Network Infrastructure

NLR's foundation consists of:

dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM)-based national optical footprint using Cisco Systems' 15808 and 15454 optical electronic systems, with a maximum capacity of 40 and 32 wavelengths per fiber pair respectively. Each wavelength can support transmission at 10 billion bits per second (10 Gbps). This optical system is deployed nationwide across roughly 15,000 route-miles of dark fiber that NLR has obtained through Level 3 Communications and WilTel Communications. Four NLR wavelengths have been implemented using 10 Gigabit Ethernet LAN PhY (physical layer), a technology and architecture that had previously been limited to metro-area networks. NLR can also support the SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork) Technology employed in traditional telecommunications networks, if needed. (National LambdaRail)

Services & Cost

NLR's nationwide advanced optical network infrastructure is reportedly capable of meeting future classroom needs, as well as, needs of demanding network and scientific research. NLR owns the underlying fiber optic cable and optical equipment, and other networking equipment, and states it can "cost-effectively implement multiple, diverse experimental and production networks on its nationwide optical fiber footprint with unprecedented flexibility and responsiveness." Basic service costs can be obtained from NLR. (National LambdaRail)

While a dearth of rigorous data for support exists for some claims by competition of NLR, Smith and Cohon, argue, one cannot afford to support devices and software promising to improve learning. In response to unsubstantiated claims that a particularly technology will transform teaching and learning, leadership, they insist, must say: "No."

"Yes," however, is recommended in response to the good news in light of the National LambdaRail Network. According to Veltman (125), the NLR includes the fact thfor members who can afford the price, it provides 10 gigabit connections.

The bad news:

Poorer constituencies are located on the wrong side of the (Lambda) tracks.

Nevertheless, despite cost challenges, the U.S. Department of Commerce foresees a unique, virtual classroom of 2020 from Kindergarten to postgraduate (K - 20). In this vision, "...a student will move among molecules, interact with virtual dinosaurs, and visit the Parthenon before lunch." These anticipated future virtual classrooms "will have holograms, interactions, and perhaps avatars in immersive environments." (Veltman, 125)

Software & Hardware

The following figure (2) portrays NLR's network.

National LambdaRail

Figure 2: NLR's National Network (National LambdaRail)

NLR's initial wavelengths provide:

national 10 Gbps IP network to support internetworking and end-to-end transport protocol experiments, the first-ever national switched Ethernet experimental network with circuit-like 1 Gbps services, quick-start facility for new research projects in support of data- and computation intensive science projects, and a redundant sparing capability in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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