RD2 - A Study of the Internet II Initiative

    Executive Summary:
    Through House Joint Resolution 653 (HJR 653), the 2003 General Assembly directed the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) to “study the development of an Internet II Advanced Performance Standard Initiative.” In conducting its study, HJR 653 required JCOTS to “determine what public resources, including but not limited to public-private partnerships, other public and private resources, taxation policies, and direct financial assistance may be used to further the development of an Internet II, advanced, high-speed telecommunications backbone network with the capability of transmitting a minimum of one gigabit per second (OC-24) utilizing the IPv6 Internet Protocol to all workstations within the Commonwealth; and monitor, cooperate, and coordinate with other agencies of the Commonwealth and committees of the General Assembly to ensure a sound, progressive statewide program is in place and being actively pursued.”

    To accomplish this study, JCOTS created an advisory committee, which was co-chaired by three Commission members - Senator Newman, Delegate Plum, and Delegate T. Rust – and composed of 16 citizen members from the public and private sectors who possess a wide variety of experiences and knowledge. At its August 6, 2003 meeting, this advisory committee received presentations about Internet2 and its uses from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, the University of Virginia, and Old Dominion University – the main users of Internet2 and part of the consortium that runs the system.

    The Internet2 project is a collaborative effort among a number of universities, federal research and development agencies, and private sector firms to develop a next-generation Internet for research and education, including both enhanced network services as well as the multimedia applications that will be enabled by those services. The primary goals of Internet2 are to create a leading-edge network capability for the national research community, enable revolutionary Internet applications, and ensure the rapid transfer of new network services and applications to the broader Internet community. Institutions are using Internet2 for advanced research in electronics, medicine, physics and other disciplines; to collaborate in real-time with colleagues worldwide; and for distance learning programs.

    Jeff Crowder, Virginia Tech’s Director of Strategic Programs, informed the committee that Internet2 is quickly becoming obsolete for advanced research capabilities. Internet2 uses packet and switch technology and is controlled by the private sector, whereas the National Lambda Rail (NLR) uses a direct connect fiber-optic line and is controlled by the institutions that make up the NLR.

    At the Commission’s final meeting on December 2, 2003, it received a presentation from Dr. Robert Reynolds, Interim Vice President and CIO at the University of Virginia, and Erv Blythe, Vice-President for Information Technology at Virginia Tech, on Virginia’s initiative for getting on the NLR. Currently, Virginia does not have the right kind of optical network system to connect its institutions to the NLR. The most competitive research institutions elsewhere in the country either already have optical access to these national backbones or are collaborating to implement regional and state optical networks to gain it. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, the University of Virginia, and Old Dominion University combined forces to form the Mid Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP). They created the MATP to ensure that Virginia develops the necessary infrastructure to ensure that Virginia achieves a significant role in helping the United States regain preeminent stature in infrastructure and the scientific research and innovation that results as advances continue at an accelerating pace with increasing global competition.

    Through the efforts of the Virginia Tech Foundation, acting on behalf of MATP, an NLR node is located in northern Virginia and accessible to the institutions involved in MATP (membership is open to any public or private research institution in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C.). Each MATP participant will share a portion of the cost commitment made by the Foundation for this node. MATP’s complete report on this initiative “A Proposal to Enable Collaborative Development of Terascale Computational Facilities by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Research Institutions” is available online at < http://jcots.state.va.us/Studies/Infrastructure/2003/VORTEX.pdf>.

    This summary constitutes the final report for HJR 653.