Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UMKC Leads Research Efforts in the Internet of the Future

Are we ready for the future? More specifically, are we ready for what lies ahead in the future in networking technology? Our society has come a long way in communication technology in the past two hundred years; first it was telegraphy, invented in the first half of 19th century, then the telephony, invented in the second half of 19th century, and then the Internet, almost a hundred years later, in the second half of the 20th century. Each technology has pushed the boundary on the mode and what we can communication over a long distance. So, are we ready for the future?

As great as the Internet is in changing how we communicate, the fundamental technology is now about forty years old. It was developed as an experimental concept, which originally connected only academic institutions. The early applications on the Internet were file transfer, remote terminal login service, and email. With the introduction of the Web in the early 1990s, the entire picture of the Internet changed as its popularity grew almost overnight.

There are many fundamental issues that were not part of the original design of the Internet. For example, consider security -- this is only an afterthought as problems arose. Secondly, can we continue to send information efficiently and quickly if the number of connected devices grows exponentially, and so on. While we're tempted to make incremental improvement to the Internet's initial basic concept, it is also important to re-think everything from ground-up if we were to design a network of the future.

National Science Foundation has recognized the need for such a new and fresh thinking so that it is time to envision and put the fundamental concepts together on how the network of the future is going to be. Among its new initiatives includes the GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations) program . As a part of this effort, UMKC is one of the first set of institutions nation-wide funded by the GENI Phase-One project that was announced in the summer of 2008. Noteworthy is that UMKC is the only public university in the state of Missouri that was funded in the GENI Phase one funding. UMKC's project "GpENI" (Great Plains Environment for Network Innovation) is a partnership among four institutions: University of Kansas, UMKC, Kansas State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

So, what is GpENI? GpENI is a three-year project that aims to create a new experimental networking testbed connecting these four institutions that will provide a dedicated environment for networking scientists to try out new concepts for networks of the future. It may be noted that GpENI is one of the only two experimental tesbeds funded in the first phase of GENI funding. The basic part of GpENI experimental testbed is recently connected and now the excitement begins. In particular, UMKC's effort in this project is to lead and explore programmable router functionalities so that routing mechanisms in the core of the network of the future can be thought through in a number of new and innovative ways. UMKC's researchers involved in this project are Deep Medhi (Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering Department, who heads the Networking & Telecommunications Research Lab at UMKC) as principal investigator and Baek-Young Choi (Assistant Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering Department) as co-investigator. UMKC maintains a project page for its GpENI effort: It is also worth noting that Deep Medhi was one of the leads in organizing a US-Japan Future Networks Workshop held last fall in California that was supported by the National Science Foundation; he'll also serve as the scientific program co-chair of an International Workshop on FutureNet to be held in Hawaii in December 2009.

UMKC's GpENI effort has a far reaching goal. It plans to connect international institutions to its testbed in the near future as well as many US institutions. Stay tuned!

-Written by Deep Medhi, Ph.D., Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering Department

In picture UMKC team members: (front) Ramkumar Cherukuri, Baek-Young Choi, Xuan Liu; (back) Deep Medhi and Haiyang Qian [not in picture - Can Kanli & Jim Schonemann]

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