RUNNET

Federal University Network of Russia

Vladimir N.Vasilyev
Board Chairman
E-mail: vasilev@ipmo.spb.su

Valery A.Vasenin
Board Vice-Chairman
E-mail: vasenin@rector.msu.su

Yuri G.Kirchin
Board Scientific Secretary
E-mail: ctsyk@ipmo.spb.su

Yuri V.Gugel
System Administration
E-mail: gugel@ipmo.spb.su

Andrei M.Robachevsky
Interaction and Cooperation
E-mail: ctsrob@ipmo.spb.su


Universities play an important role in the economical, social and cultural life of a country. As science and knowledge know no frontiers, universities by nature am open for exchange and internationally oriented. Thus communications between universities am of vital importance for their existence and development. Russian universities need the same to an even greater extent. The lack of communication means in Russia leads to insufficient level of real collaboration between the universities, makes it difficult to get an access to various informational resources inside the country and abroad and to offer ones of Russian universities.

Background

In 1992 a new State Program "Universities of Russia" was established. It is aimed at setting up an effective mechanism to revive universities' leading role in fundamental research, to elaborate principles, methods and mechanism to improve university education.

All this objectives could be achieved only by creating common university informational space open for the world.

Communication has always been a fundamental problem for Russia because of its geographical and demographical features. To survive we are to overcome this barrier now. Moreover, the universities being informational centers of the country and having a great impact onto its development need up-to-date communication links.

At the beginning of 1994 a new direction (Direction V) was opened in the framework of State Program "Universities of Russia". The main task of the Direction V is creation and development of Russian federal university computer network RUNNet and integration of the universities into worldwide informational system of science, education and management. The federal network will provide Russian universities with the facilities to utilize wide spectrum of informational and communication services inside country as well as abroad.

Goals of RUNNet Project

Network Concept

The following principles constitute the network concept:

RUNNet Services

The priority objective of the network is development of university and national informational resources. RUNNet provides wide spectrum of services according to user's demands:

  • Distributed directory and information location systems, data and knowledge bases
  • Distant education program., seminars and teleconferences
  • Netnews
  • Sharing of curriculum materials
  • Computer libraries, data archives
  • Distributed publishing
  • Electronic mail
  • Remote access to computer centers
  • RUNNet also offers access to international informational resources and services
  • RUNNet Architecture

    Network backbone provides connectivity for main economical regions of Russia: Center, North-West, Volga, North-Caucuses, Ural, Siberia.

    Federal nodes (FN) located in the main university centers of the country and connected via satellite channels constitute the backbone. Overall number of FNs in the region varies from one to three depending on the density of potential users. Structure of a region determines connectivity of corresponding FN: it is connected with regional nodes (RN) and additionally with end-users. Thus both FNs and RNs act as RUNNet's Points of Presence.

    RUNNet Core

    Two FNs located in Moscow and St. Petersburg and named core federal nodes (CFN) are cardinal for the backbone. Almost all backbone administration and channel control take place there.

    Primary responsibility of Moscow CFN is administration of satellite subsystem, routing of the main bulk of national traffic. It is also the main gateway to other Russian networks.

    St. Petersburg CFN takes the main part of international traffic and forwards it to NORDUnet. Also it discharges Moscow CFN serving a number of FNs.

    According to real traffic and in case of a CFN malfunction it is possible to adapt topology dynamically by switching satellite channels.

    This scheme improves reliability of RUNNet backbone and optimizes load of channels.

    Federal Nodes

    FNs perform all tasks related to the backbone functionality. Also FNs provide services for users maintaining information common for the whole region. From the traffic point of view FNs prevent external channel overload by mirroring most often requested information.

    Regional Modes

    RNs are the centers of regional network development. Most of user connections are made through RNs. Each RN serves its sub region connecting local universities, educational and other institutions. Informational services of RNs are more specific according to clients' needs and local projects. Along with infrastructure development some RNs will become federal ones.

    Development Subsystem

    All planned network modifications are being tested on the subsystem level. This modifications include new organizational procedures, new network technologies and services. The subsystem consists of development network as part of CFN architecture and RNs' facilities reserved for pilot projects.

    RUNNet Channels

    RUNNet channel subsystem is based on different types of physical channel: satellite, fiber optics, radio, telephone leased and dial-up lines.

    At present only satellite technology is the most suitable one for the backbone which requires high speed links covering Russia extent.

    Practically all territory of Russia except Kaliningrad region and Chukotka lies between 30 EA and 160 EA. To cover the territory of the country together with other CIS states retransmitting satellites stationary placed on 65...90 EA bow are to he used. According to technical and financial reasons renting foreign space vehicles is not planned at the first stage of the RUNNet project. Russian satellites Horizont-80, -90 and Raduga-70, -85 cover mentioned areas by their spots. But channel resources of Horizont-80, the most suitable for the project, are practically completely rented. Two-hop scheme based on a satellite couple being applied would cause serious delays in response, to say nothing of financial disadvantages. The most balanced variant here is Raduga-85 satellite. Along with the RUNNet concept earth stations will be placed in all FNs of the network and in some regional ones as well.

    RUNNet backbone operates via satellite channels having two-star topology. That is the CFNs are connected to other FNs by means of point-to-multipoint regular links. CFNs have facilities to adapt topology dynamically by link switching and scaling in case of malfunction or overload.

    The CFNs are interconnected by 256 Kbit/s satellite link. In future 2 Mbit/s fiber optics connectivity will replace the initial one.

    Fiber optics link St. Petersburg Helsinki provides connectivity between RUNNet CFN and FUNET, also serving as primary link to the Internet.

    FNs, except Moscow and St. Petersburg ones, each have one 64...256 Kbit/s satellite link to corresponding CFN, links to RNs in served region and one 64 Kbit/s switched link for direct access to other FNs.

    RN has one 64...256 Kbit/s link to FN and links to end-users, Specific type of these channels strongly depends on communication infrastructure of a region.

    Stages of the Project

    The project curriculum consists of three stages:

    I stage ends 1.01.1995. The following FNs will be launched: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Ulianovsk, Saratov, Krasnoyarsk. Services: e-mail, WWW system, netnews and university teleconferences.
    II stage ends 1.01.1995. The following FNs will be launched: Voronezh, Rostov, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod. Services: electronic handbooks, directory systems, information location systems, shared projects coordination.
    III stage ends 1.01.1995. The following FNs will be launched: Khabarovsk, Vladivostok. Services: electronic libraries, data archives, distributed publishing systems.

    Network Cooperation

    The network has never been thought of being separate. Establishing mutually beneficial relations with other networks is one of the most important and complex parts of the project. These relations include traffic exchange shortening paths, cooperative infrastructure development, optimization of channel utilization, cooperation in development of informational resources and services. Cooperation takes place in the form of long-term agreements and joint projects with other networks reflecting all these aspects.

    External connectivity may be organized only at coinciding Points of Presence of interacting networks. Moscow city gives the unique opportunity for this and Moscow CFN plays an important role in RUNNet cooperation program.

    A part of this program is a number of successive workshops devoted to network infrastructure development and cooperation that will take place in winter 1994/95. All potential partners will be invited to share this work. All-Russia conference to be held on the completion of the workshops will summarize the results and is expected to open new horizons for cooperation.

    Organizational Structure of the Project.

    RUNNet project is being conducted by the Board responsible for solving the most important strategic problems and adopting current decisions of Expert Groups that coordinate work in accordance with their responsibilities:

    RUNNet Board

    Expert Groups

    Co-Chairmen:

    Expert Group 1

    Expert Group 2

    Expert Group 3/4

    Expert Group 5

    Expert Group 6


    Back to Index