As my time at the Internet2 Global Summit winds down, I think about some things I’ve been predicting. I’m more convinced the future is coming fast. And it’s not about a number with bps behind it.
Sure, you have to have bandwidth, but soon, it won’t be the end-all be-all of connectivity. Really it already isn’t. For large institutions and R&E networks, the days of drawing most of our “upstream” bandwidth from commercial Internet connections may be numbered.
End-to-End performance is the name of the game, and once you’ve got bandwidth, what do you do next? You eliminate the middle man and all of his foibles. Already we’re starting to see this happen. KanREN is working on a number of paths through our neighboring R&E networks and Internet2 that get us closer to content and cloud providers. I announced our intent to begin moving in this direction at the KanREN annual meeting last month. This week at the I2 Global Summit, I see even more evidence this is coming.
There’s been a fair amount of discussion about cloud and content provides, how we create environments within our national backbone to carry their traffic. Phrases like “deterministic service” got used a lot. Leveraging our infrastructures to create “express paths” to content and cloud providers. That’s what we’re going to be doing.
We are already seeing cloud providers and carriers offering, for a fee, more direct connections to critical cloud services. It’s done with things called “circuits”, and you might have heard of them. In the old days, circuits to content or application service providers were a lot more common. Then came the Internet, and we could just get everywhere with that one connection to it. But now these services are more critical, and we need to ensure performance… full circle.
This will be a major focus for the R&E community. In a way, it’s what research networking has always been about. It’s why Internet2 was created; to build a network that looked a lot like the Internet, but provided more stable, robust and… dare I say “deterministic” performance for science and big data. Now we have another use. Now it’s time to bring the same concepts to bear for production content and applications services (i.e. the Cloud).
Last year, the LHC; next year, Microsoft.