Akademgorodok Internet Project

(Status report)

Novosibirsk ISF Office

N. Baranova
E-mail: nata@soros.nsk.su

S. Belov
E-mail: belov@inp.nsk.su

R. Blokzijl
E-mail: k13@nikhef.nl

S. Bredikhin

S.Musher
E-mail: Musher.s.l@iae.nsk.su

G. Piskunov
E-mail: piskunov@inp.msk.su


Abstract

This paper gives an outline of the project for implementing an Internet in the Novosibirsk Scientific Center (NSC), located in Akademgorodok. The main goal of the Project is to provide fair and equal access to worldwide Internet services for scientific, educational and cultural communities. The Project will be based on an existing high-speed (up to 2 Mbps) cabling system that will be connected to both Global and Russian Internets by satellite channels. External funding will be necessary to launch the Project; it is supposed that operational expenses should be covered by the organizations served by the Network.

Introduction

The ever growing complexity of modern science and research requires access to modern communication facilities. Today, the most advanced tool for the provision of communication between scientists and researchers is based on computer networking. The most widespread networking system in use by scientific and educational communities all over the world consists of the Internet, which connects more than two million computers serving more than 20 million users on all continents.

Modern science is global in nature and to be involved in the world scientific process means now to be networked. Unfortunately, the scientific community in Siberia is very isolated from a telecommunications perspective and deprived of the fair access to the information.

The situation with availability of computers and network connectivity even in the most advanced in this respect institutes, such as for example, Institute of Nuclear Physics, is far below of what is accepted as standard in the Western laboratories. At a total number of scientists and engineer of about 1200, institute has about 500 personal computers out of which only half is networked; bandwidth of the external connections not exceeds 19.2 kbps, which is absolutely inadequate for the efficient participation in the international collaborations.

The average situation is much worse - one PC for each five to ten scientists, out of which only every fifth is connected to the local network or has an access to e-mail. The connectivity to the World Internet is limited by e-mail only. At a few sites having full IP capabilities, the bandwidth of the existing lines prevents from using them in any reasonable way.

At a current pace of technological development and forbidding prices for the networking equipment, computers, leased lines and value added services (in terms of the salaries of scientists in Russia) we may expect that the technological gap and relative isolation of the Siberian scientific, educational and cultural communities will only increase. Under current economic conditions the improvements are impossible without sponsorship. Development of the networking infrastructure in Siberian region will require significant investment. The scale of the task is too large for a single corporation or international foundation or government to be able to provide the full funding. Thus, a cooperation between institutions and universities for better utilization of provided funding as well as between sponsoring organization to secure the optimal funding package is needed.

Requirements and Goals

The NSC is the main scientific center of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. More than 40 scientific and research Institutes in various disciplines ranging from high energy physic to archeology are located here. Akademgorodok is also the location of the Novosibirsk State University. Various museums and schools complement the scientific and cultural environment of the NSC. Akademgorodok has a long tradition of cooperation with other centers of science and education, both in Russia and abroad.

Due to the very high concentration of scientific organizations in a very small campus not exceeding in diameter 3 km implementation of the Project will allow to provide access to the Internet for about 15,000 researches and 5,000 students in one action at a very cost effective way.

The Akademgorodok Internet project will realize the integration of the NSC into the worldwide Internet. This will enable the introduction of modern communication tools on many levels: local, national and international. These tools will be freely available to the scientific, educational, cultural, health care and related communities.

The project will provide high level services in a cost effective way. It is expected that during the start of the project external funding will be necessary. However, after an initial period the operational cost of the communication services should be covered by the organizations served by the network. Therefore, the preference is given to the competitive solutions providing decrease of the recurring cost in the future.

The specifics of the communication traffic of the research institutes involved in the project is in very low locality. This means that the traffic between closely located institutes, such as for example Institute of Citology and Genetics and Institute of Nuclear Physics is negligible. Most of their traffic is destined to their partner laboratories abroad. There is an evident semantic gap between the star-like topology of the created campus network and connectivity requirements. Each of the monodiscipline institutes needs to be connected to their appropriate logical subnetwork (Institute of Genetics to Bionet, Institute of Nuclear Physics to HEPNet and ES-Net, etc., all of which belonging to the Global Internet). It should be noted, anyway, that the situation with Universities is reverse: educational organizations are characterized by high diversity of disciplines of interest and they need to be effectively connected to all of the local research institutes as well as to other universities country wide and worldwide.

The local infrastructure is based on the existing cable network having the star topology with the central node located at the Institute of Computing Technologies. The utilization of the existing cabling structure decreases substantially the total cost of the project. Nevertheless, the question arise why do we need to unite semantically isolated institutes into a s single high speed network. There is only one answer - to share commune resources, such as:

There are two reasons to unite for sharing the resources:

At current stage the only shared resource envisaged by the Project is satellite terminal.

In summary, the ultimate goal of the Project is to provide worldwide connectivity of the Akademgorodok community to the Global Internet. This is achieved by:

Installation of a satellite terminal for connecting to the Moscow backbone and Europe

and

Creation of a local high speed infrastructure to deliver this connectivity to the end users in more than 15 institutes.

The provision of the effective connectivity requires the existence of at least the following components:

The scope of the Project is limited to the development of the two most critical at the moment items, namely, campus network and long distance links, assuming that the development of the other components should be the responsibility of the participating organizations and possibly other projects.

It is foreseen that the scale and the scope of the NSC Internet will be continuously growing. Therefore, the design of network should allow for this growth.

Other organizations and groups, involved in providing networking services to user communities in the Siberian area, are strongly encouraged to connect to the Internet in Akademgorodok.

Possible future extensions

Novosibirsk and West-Siberia region

It is necessary to consider the technical possibilities to connect cultural and educational organizations in Novosibirsk, a huge industrial center. Schools which have already been involved in the ``Transformation of Humanities Program'', independent mass-media organizations and educational institutions wishing to connect to the Internet, will have a high priority.

It is also assumed that the ``Akademgorodok Internet'' could be extended to include users from the Siberian Divisions of Russian Medical and Agricultural Academies of Sciences as well Federal Center of Virology. They are concentrated in three small towns situated about 15 km from Akademgorodok. It can be implemented by using a microwave or radio links or leased telephone lines.

This Project is viewed as a pilot work of the telecommunication Program for the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy as a whole. Within this Project of the Novosibirsk Scientific Center not a small number of various solutions for integrating different communication systems of the organizations-subscribers into a joint system will be implemented. As a result of this Project development a real experience will be gained referring to construction and use of a big telecommunication system. In future it can be used for the extension of the "Akademgorodok Internet", taking into account the interests of different scientific centers within the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Buryat, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Tyumen and Yakutya) as well as scientific organizations in the cities of the Siberian region.

Other Siberian Networks

It is intended to establish links with existing regional networks of West Siberia in the future.

Currently there are several networks in the West Siberian Region:

Relcom -- based on UUCP and TCP/IP as well as dial-up SLIP technologies
IASNET -- based on X.25 technology
INFOTEL -- based on X.25 technology
SPRINT -- based on X.25 technology

Both dial-up and leased telephone lines with a throughput up to 19.2 Kbps are used for the long distance connections. Currently RELCOM is the most advanced and widely available network.

Basic design principles

The Akademgorodok Internet Project consists of a high speed local infrastructure connected to both the Russian Internet and the Global Internet.

Initially, local infrastructure will be based on an existing cabling system. This system has a star topology centered at the Institute of Computing Technologies and is connected to eight locations around Akademgorodok, serving 15 institutes and organizations. This cabling system allows to communicate at speeds up to 2 Mbps.

Another existing cabling system of a different wire type will enable connections with the remaining institutes and organizations at speeds up to 38.4 Kbps.

Both systems will be integrated into a single network.

The above solution has been chosen because the availability of the cabling systems makes an immediate implementation possible. The final infrastructure will be based on a fiber optical ring, using FDDI technologies at speeds of 100 Mbps.

The NSC Internet will join both existing and emerging networks of different institutions of Akademgorodok. The internal design and development of any such network is not treated as a part of this project.

The NSC Internet will connect to both the Russian Internet and the Global Internet through a satellite based system. The Russian connection point will be the emerging Moscow Backbone, the connection to the Global Internet may be based in Finland.

The satellite ground station will be connected to the NSC network in such a way that equal and fair access for all users is ensured, while at the same time an efficient transport of traffic will be provided.

The network will offer full IP-services to the end users. Based on this, network users will obtain interactive real time access to any host around the world, to file servers, data bases and any other high-level network services.

For the continuous, smooth operation of the network at least the following functions and activities must be implemented:

Network Technology

Phase 1

During Phase 1 the core routing system will be built uniting into a single networks 15 locations. As it was mentioned earlier the networks has star topology.

The center of the star

Network equipment in the central facility will include:

Connection facilities to Moscow and Abroad

The following paragraph is based on one of the possible solutions for the long haul links, both national and international. Work on achieving the most optimum solution is still going on, therefore the following should be regarded as just an example of what might be the final solution. However, the choice of the right satellite provider may still be open, the networking and routing equipment configuration is independent of the chosen solution.

In any case at least one earth station will be needed in Akademgorodok:

There exist several options, which are now under consideration.

Option 1

Using of the two already operational earth station located in Radio-MSU and at DESY. These stations use Russian equipment (with US components) and are aimed at Radouga 35E satellite.

Termination at both of these points will require installation of additional satellite modems at DESY and MSU. The station at DESY should be able to support 512 kbps and possible future increase of the Moscow traffic.

Option 2

Termination at one of the existing communication centers belonging to the Russian Satellite Communication Company and using the satellites operated by RSCC: Gorizont or Intelsat. The most probable point is in downtown of Moscow at Shabolovka, from where the signal may be transit over existing terrestrial lines to one of the institutes connected to the Moscow Backbone, say, Institute of Organic Chemistry (FREE Net). At this, routing of NSC traffic to Global Internet is considered as a part of joint efforts in providing efficient connectivity for Moscow R&E community.

Option 3

Investigation has been made to provide connection to the Global Internet via the termination point in Finland. In the Finnish variant the following equipment would be needed:

The final choice depends on many issues to be taken into consideration, like: stability of the provider in the long term perspective, possibility to change the provider, recurring cost, sources of funding, etc. It should be noted that if to have all the mentioned stations aimed at the same satellite all of them could be connected into a meshed network by adding a pair of modems for each point-to-point link.

The chosen satellite system will be connected to dedicated routing equipment, consisting of:

One Cisco CS-4000 with:

Network connection facilities at user premises

At the user side, on the Institute level, three different kind of connection facilities are foreseen, depending upon the speed of the connection and the complexity of the local infrastructure. Below the generic configurations are given.

For institutes connected at high speed, with more then one internal network:

Cisco CS-4000 with

For institutes connected at high speed, with one internal network:

Cisco CS-2500 with:

For institutes connected at medium speed, with one internal network:

Cisco CS-2500 with low speed (115.2 Kbps) short haul modem

Phase 2

The second stage of the Internet infrastructure will consist of a fiber optical ring, covering the institutes along Lavrentyeva and Universitetsky Prospects, connecting approximately 85% of all institutions inside Akademgorodok. The length of the fiber ring will be about 12 km, excluding the local loops to individual institutes. As usual, the last few meters will demand special solutions.

Almost all equipment installed during the Phase 1 implementation is re-usable in the Phase 2. For connection to the fiber ring at least a CS-4000 router with a dual loop single mode FDDI interface module will be required.

Cost Estimate of Phase 1 + Satellite

The total cost incurred by the project can be subdivided in several different categories, depending on the type of equipment and nature of the cost element. We have chosen to break down the cost along the following lines:

At the time of writing not all cost elements are fully understood yet. Many solutions are taken under the pressure of limited funding. Current budget of the Project (not fully confirmed) is about $700,000.

Cooperation

The Project is being implemented as a cooperation project by the following Participants - International Science Foundation (one of the Soros Foundations), Presidium of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS), Institute of Nuclear Physics of SB RAS and Novosibirsk State University. Their activity is defined by the "Memorandum of Understanding" and "Agreement on Joint Realization of the "Akademgorodok Internet Project". The main contributions of the parties are:

International Science Foundation: Presidium SB RAS: Institute of Nuclear Physics:
  • installation with participation of ISF of a satellite terminal and provision of the connectivity to the Russian and Global Internets.
  • Administration Council and Technical Committee have been organized for supervision and coordination the development of the Project. Administrative Council consists of the representatives of the above mentioned organizations - participants; Technical Committee includes the networking experts from the leading Institutes of SB RAS.

    What has been done already

    The Project was considered at the Board Meeting of ISF at 28 June 1994 and it was granted $500,000 for it's development. During three "warm" months the testing, repairing and construction of the two new "rays" of the high-speed cabling system has been accomplished. It was checked with the help of two ASM 40 wide range modems (RAD company) and it was found out that the cabling system can be operated speed up to 2 Mbps. All this work has been supervised by the Technical Committee. It was also responsible for preparing the contracts for the installation of the satellite terminal and for buying terrestrial telecommunication equipment.

    Problems to be solved

    It is worth to indicate some problems which have to be solved in the nearest future, but it's solution remains unclear up to now:

    1. It is needed to organize the special "Exploitation " group. In which way it has to be implemented?
    2. Real-time high-speed Internet will provide a large variety of new possibilities. It is needed to organize the appropriate training. What is the most effective way to arrange it and where to find financial support for this activity ?
    3. There are a lot of commercial non-state firms and companies in Akademgorodok and Novosibirsk. They are very interested in getting an access to the Internet. There exist at least two methods to deal with them. First one - to consider "Akademgorodok Internet" as a pure academic and cultural communities oriented and to forbid any access for commercial organizations. Another option is to reach the mutual consent in order to decrease the traffic payments for the students, teachers, researches, etc. on the non-profit basis. What is the optimal solution?

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