Regional University and Scientific North-West Network (RUS NWNet)




S.l. Tarasov



Integration of Russia in the world information environment poses ultimately the problem of deploying of up-to-date computer networks and of connecting them to the international network resources.

This work has begun. A number of networks already operate: commercial network RELCOM, "Radio MSU" Network, Russian Space Science Internet (RSSI). Some large projects are launched: Federal computer network of Russian universities (RUNNET) in the frameworks of the state scientific program "Universities of Russia", RELARN (Russian Electronic Academic Research Network) project with participation of institutes of Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and of universities, and a number of other projects.

St.-Petersburg is one of the largest research, education, and culture centers of Russia. It lodges about 50 universities, more than 100 research institutes, scores of culture establishments. Lacking information exchange via computer networks as well in Russia as with other countries, all of them cannot operate effectively today. So the need arises to develop the regional computer network for education, science and culture in St.-Petersburg and at the North-West of Russia.

1. Regional associated computer networks a way to regional integration of federal and specialized networks

Nowadays the academic institutes' researches and university professors together with computer science specialists joined in an attempt to solve vital telecommunication issues in Russia. They work under different administrations; they are funded from various sources (Ministry of Science and Technical Policy of Russia, the State Committee for Higher Education of Russia, Russian Fundamental Science Foundation, International Science Foundation, other foreign organizations and foundations), - so a number of parallel network projects (regional or specialized) emerged: (RUNNET, RELARN, HEPNET Russia, EuroMath Russia, Russian Space Science Internet, et. al.). All these projects are aimed at the same goal - to provide for an Internet gateway for all or some science and/or education institutions of Russia. So in every single region these projects appeal to the same organizations and to the same users. The situation can cause major ineffectivenesses in finance, personnel and management.

So a need arises to constitute consistent regional policy of computer networks development, moreover it is true due to the fact that the most expensive component of any network serving science and education is the digital transport media, and this media is of the regional nature.

We consider the basis of such consistent regional policy of computer networks development to be an emergence of regional associated science, education and culture computer networks as associations which accumulate the experience and knowledge of the whole region to optimize the regional telecommunication system development. These associations should support every federal and specialized computer network projects in their regional aspects. In fact, coordinated participation in such projects should be the main organizational form of the regional networks development, should determine the sources of funding that way. The other approaches to funding of the regional networks development may be: interadiministration state program of the regional networks development under the auspices of State Duma of Russian Federation or funding from interadiministration or international sources.

A number of important regional problems can be solved with regional networks, e.g. connections to local governments and local administration of science and education, secondary school networking etc., the problems can hardly be tackled within frameworks of any federal or specialized project. Regional computer networks can also collect the information base on the development of science, education and culture in the region. Solving such regional problems, regional computer networks should be supported within the regional development programs.

The circumstances are favorable for an emergence of a regional computer network in St-Petersburg and at the North-West of Russia. Aimed at this goal, the non-profit organization Regional University and Scientific North-West Network (RUS NWNet) Association has been founded. RUS NWNet is a regional structure integrating all telecommunication initiatives in St-Petersburg and at the North-West of Russia. Active members of the RUS NWNet are the participants of major federal and specialized projects: RUNNET (SPSU, SPSTU, SPIFMO), RELARN (PTI, SPIIASRAS, SPSU, SPSTU, SPINP), HEPNET (SPINP, SPSU), RSSI (PTI, SPINP, SPSU), EUROMATH (IMI, SPSU) (the abbreviation list see Appendix).

To interact properly with the regional computer networks, the particular federal or specialized networks projects should be properly structured. An example of such structured project is RUNNET - the network being implemented under the state program "Universities of Russia" (see the next part of the article). The very structure of RUNNET is regional. Two segments of RUNNET (St-Petersburg and North-West) are supposed to be developed as RUS NWNet components. Deployment of federal and regional RUNNET teleports will link RUS NWNet with other regions optimally.

St-Petersburg has already done much in modern digital telecommunication development. The leading power company LENENERGO deployed a number of fiber-optic and radio-relay channels both in St-Petersburg and at the North-West of Russia (see the Part 6 of the article). LENENERGO Co cooperates with academic organizations and universities in the framework of the General Agreement between LENENERGO Co and the State Committee for Higher Education of Russian Federation and Russian Acad. Sci. This cooperation considered to be a prerequisite to fast and effective development of the St-Petersburg regional computer network including more than 150 scientific, educational and cultural organizations. This network is a natural subnet of RUS NWNet St-Petersburg segment, which may be named as RUS SPbNet. During the future expansion of RUS NWNet the Association will deploy its own digital telecommunication channels. The LENENERGO plans of fiber-optic channel deployment including the possibilities of links to Finland and Moscow taken into account, RUS SPbNet will form the nucleus for the mature North-West regional computer network.

2. The Federal University Computer Network (RUNNET)

The federal university computer network RUNNET is developed under the state program "Universities of Russia". More than 100 universities (both classic and technical) participate the project.

In 1994 -1997 RUNNET will link scores of universities located at different cities of Russia. RUNNET is based on a multiprotocol federal backbone with 11 regional segments. The regional segment is the basic structural element of RUNNET. It spans an economic region and has the information and communications center (a federal node). Federal nodes has digital communication channels to the major cities (regional nodes) of the region and to some universities. The need arises, federal and/or regional nodes can have direct digital links. A part of federal nodes will function as a distributed network nucleus (hub). So RUNNET has strict hierarchy.

The distribution of nodes on the hierarchy levels (distributed network nucleus, federal node, regional node) is caused by differentiation in the tasks of the nodes and various requirements to the communication channels. In total, 14 federal nodes and about 50 regional nodes will be launched.

Regional RUNNET nodes

Regional nodes exchange data with federal nodes at the rate of 64 Kbit/s. The communication channel between them is working permanently. The channel dependability requirements correspond with the international ones. Availability of the channel should. be more than 0.95.

In a need a regional node has a possibility to communicate with the RUNNET network nucleus and/or other regional nodes directly at the same rate of 64 Kbit/s. The channe1 for such link can be allotted on schedule or on demand. In the latter case the channel should be allotted in no more than 3 minutes. An average exchange time 30 minutes. The exchange intensity once or twice a day.

Various communication channels will be in use by RUNNET - cables, radio-relay, satellite. For every region of Russia the channels should be chosen separately, taking into account the regional situation. E.g., at the first stage of RUNNET development the regional nodes in Ulianovsk and Saratov will use satellite communication channels due to lack of high-quality ground channels from Moscow to Volga region. Later one of the two regional nodes will be transformed into the Federal Povolzhie (Volga region) node.

Federal RUNNET nodes

At the first stage of RUNNET development (to 01.01.95) 6 federal nodes will be launched into operation - Moscow, St-Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok). On the second stage (01.05.95) the number of federal nodes will be 10; on the 3rd stage - 10-14.

A federal node has the following tasks:

The RUNNET distributed nucleus

The RUNNET distributed nucleus (hub) is located in Moscow and in St-Petersburg. The Moscow federal node has the following assignments:

St-Petersburg federal node has the following assignments:

Communication channel between Moscow and St-Petersburg shou1d provide for exchange rate 256 - 2048 Kbit/s.

The two star subnets (Moscow and St-Petersburg) can function together or independently serve as gates to international networks.

3. The project of the Regional University Scientific North-West Network (RUS NWNet) - an introduction

Developing RUS NWNet will provide for the basis for global information exchange for the North-West region of Russia and will promote new information technologies to meet current and future assignments of science, education and culture in the region.

Hardware and software of the modem academic networks can provide essentially new possibilities over and above the conventional network services (E-mail, file transfer, remote access) to support international research, education and culture programs.

The project under development will incorporate the most modern communication technologies to promote development of multimedia and interactive groupware applications. The network segment being build should satisfy the needs of educational, research and culture institutions of St-Petersburg and should participate in the development of the world information resources of science and education.

The network segment to be developed wi1l be the part of the North-West region network which has St-Petersburg as its center. The segment is designed as a multiprotocol high-bitrate communication system. This regional segment will interact with Russian academic and university networks (RUNNET, RELARN, subject-oriented networks).

Joint St-Petersburg network will encircle St-Petersburg with its near suburbs (Peterhof, Gatchina, Pushkin). The developing infrastructure will provide for communication between both the institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences and of higher education and international, national and regional networks - FUNET, NORDnet and Internet.

The network segment to be developed will be deployed utilizing fiber-optic, radio-relay and special-purpose telephone lines of LENENERGO Co, communication channels of the Petersburg City Telephone Company and fiber-optic, radio-relay and special-purpose telephone lines (re-)implemented for the current project (communication channels of the X.25 Academic Network (ACADEMNET) of 80-ieths). The project will be managed by the RUS NWNet Association - the non-profit organization which has been established for this purpose only.

The network will be connected with the Moscow Backbone via fiber-optic or radio-relay channels of LENENERGO Co and with Finnish network(s) via fiber-optic channels (FOC) of LENENERGO Co. The geographic location of St-Petersburg city being taken into account, the FOC to Finland may be one of the main junctions of Russian academic networks with their international counterparts.

Feasibility of the task rests on the extensive experience of LENENERGO Co in building of the modern communication media in the North-West of Russia and on the extensive experience of other participants of the project in building and maintenance of computer networks, in particular X.25 Academic Network.

During the last year organizations the members of the RUS NWNet Association - has been accomplished a number of pilot projects implementing some basic parts of the regional network.

4. Basic structures of the RUS NWNet

RUS NWNet will have a four-level structure:

Level 0 -

the central communication node of the regional network located at th central premises of LENENERGO Co (Marsovo Pole).

Level 1 -

hub nodes of the regional network located at some large organization of St-Petersburg. These nodes will collect the traffic from/to node under the hubs to the central node. These nodes should either have connections with neighbor hub nodes of the RUS NWnet or have stand-by connection with the central node or have a gateway to another network to provide the dependable operations of the node. Thus the Level 0 node together with the Level 1 nodes and communication transport media will make the base St-Petersburg regional IP-network We plan to launch 16 hub nodes.

Level 2 -

hub nodes collecting traffic from/to few vicinity or ganizations/departments (LANs).

Level 3 -

bridges from a single LAN to RUS NWnet

The aforementioned structure of the RUS NWnet takes into account the following:

  1. Geographic location of the organizations the prospective users of the BUS NWnet, large suburb research centers (Peterhof, Gatchina, Pushkin included.
  2. Utilization of existent communication channels and the channels to b deployed to minimize expenditures.
  3. Varying possibilities to implement the RUS NWnet in stages.
  4. The Level 1 hub nodes (with their Level 2&3 subnodes) can be put int operation in parallel.
  5. Possibility to force coordinated routing policy in the region.
  6. Strict hierarchy of administration of the RUN NWnet (Level 1 under Level 0; Level 2 under Level 1 etc.).

We plan to connect the central communication node with Helsinki, Moscow Backbone and possibly with other Russian networks having Internet connections.

5. Current TCP/IP Connections in St-Petersburg

Nowadays a number of St-Petersburg institutions have TCP/IP connections with gateways to international networks. Most of these links should be considered as experimental ones, being used to gain an experience in maintenance and in accommodation of users in the new information services. In most cases, the transport media of these connection is general purpose or leased telephone lines which provide baud rate up to 19.2 KBaud. The most "operating" example of such a connection is EUNET link of the commercial network RELCOM. One of the users of this network is St-Petersburg state university (SPSU) which uses IP-connection via leased telephone lines of the main SPSU premises on Vasilievsky Island and of Peterhof SPSU Campus, At Peterhof SPSU Campus the large scale network of the Institute of Physics of SPSU and a router on VAX8350 computer are used.

Under the project "Implementation of the basic elements of the computer network Russian Space Science Internet (RSSI) A.F.Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute of Russian Acad. Sci. has implemented the SLIP-hub using general purpose and leased telephone lines and furnished IP-connection with the Institute of Space Research (ISR. Moscow) via the leased telephone channel, ISR having satellite channel to NASA Internet.

In the frameworks of the development of the specialized network for high energy physics (HEPNET) St-Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics (SPINP) of Russian Acad. Sci. has implemented IP-connection with Moscow state university ("Radio MSU" network) via the leased telephone channel, MSU having satellite channel to DESY nuclear center (Germany).

As we already mentioned, these connections allow to acquire some experience and satisfy users' minimum needs. Nevertheless these links may not be considered as prospective ones due to low throughput, "autonomy" of all these Internet connections, financial difficulties and lack of strategy for their future development.

So we believe the implementation of the computer network for education, science and culture in St-Petersburg as a coherent project which incorporates deploying an own transport media and leasing the existing channels at favorable rates to be prospective.

6. The Transport media of St-Petersburg segment of RUS NWNet

The dedicated communication lines and plans of their development as well as geographic location of institutions of St-Petersburg taken into account, we plan to use various transport media for RUS NWNet:

On Vasilievsky Island the communication system of the former X.25 Academic Network exists. That system used to access computation facilities of St-Petersburg Institute of Information and Automation Science of Russian Acad. Sci. (SPIIASRAS) It is one of the resources for RUS NWNet communication media. The channels of the former Academic Network system use fiber-optic and coax cables and leased telephone lines. These channels are renewed and expanded.

The bulk of RUS NWNet channels is planned to make use of LENENERGO Co communication system.

LENENERGO Co is a leading power company at the North-West of Russia. The power production requires sophisticated control means which, in turn, place demand on high-performance communication system. Nowadays two digital communication technologies are in use at LENENERGO Co: radio-relay and fiber-optic (FO). The last technology used both for intracity and for interregional communication lines. Interregional FO lines use fiber-optic cables

mounted on power transmission lines (PTL), PTLs span the whole country, so a modern communication system may be build over them.

The first FOCL mounted on PTL launched into operation by LENENERGO Co in 1993. It proved to be very reliable. OPTEN JV Co has developed FO cable of another design. and LENENERGO Co developed the technology and devices for the FO cable winding over thunderbolt hawser or phase wire of PTLs. LENERGO Co possesses also a number of other technologies combining power transmission and fiber-optic cables.

In cooperation with its Finnish partners in telecommunications LENENERGO Co established a FO communication link between Finland and St-Petersburg. The line has been mounted on the 232 km iong 3301400 kV PTL from St-Petersburg to Lappeenranta in Finland. LENENRGO Co plans to mount analogous FO cables on PTLs to Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Petrozavodsk and Murmansk.

So LENENERGO Co builds its own communication system and withdraw itself from leasing expensive lines of other companies. FO digital communication lines of LENENERGO Co have transmission rates from 16 to 140 Mbit/s and may serve as a base for a modern computer network transport media, Its spare transmission capacity let nonprofit academic computer networks to emerge in the frameworks of agreements between such power companies as LENENERGO and science and education organizations.

7. What has been done in 1994 in preparation to launch RUS NWNet project

A number of communication projects has been accomplished by universities and by institutes of Russian Acad. Sci. during this year under financial support of the State Committee for Higher Education of Russian Federation, the Ministry of Science and Technical Policy, Fundamental Research Fund, The success of these projects laid a sound foundation into the future success of RUS NWNet project:

8. RUS NWNet-St-Petersburg backbone deployment

Utilization of the high-bitrate digital communication channels developed under the mentioned pilot projects together with the channels provided by LENENERGO Co (the passibility to expand these ones for the needs of academic network taken into account) lets build the transport media spanning most nodes (of every levels) of RUS NWNet. Level 1 to Level 0 connections will use mostly fiber-optic cables and radio relay lines. The Level 2 and 3 nodes will be plugged into the RUS NWNet via telephone lines.

We plan that the following organizations will host the Level 1 nodes:

The Level 1 Node Title Host organization
Northern 1 St-Petersburg State Technical University
Northern 2 A F.Ioffe Physico-technical Institute of RAS
Petrogradsky 1 L.Euler International Mathematics Institute
Petrogradsky 2 St-Petersburg Institute for Fine Mechanics and Optics
Petrogradsky 3 St-Petersburg State Electrical University named after V.I.Ulianov(Lenin)
Vasileostrovsky 1 St-Petersburg state University
Vasileostrovsky 2 St-Petersburg Institute of Information and Automation Science of RAS
Admiralteysky St-Petersburg State Telecommunications University
Kazansky St-Petersburg Economy and Finance University
Dvortsovy The State Hermitage Museum
Sinopsky Theoretical Astronomy Institute of RAS
Moskovsky Baltic Technical University named after D.S.Ustinov
Aviatsionny St-Petersburg State Academy for Plane and Space Avionics
Peterhof Physics Institute of SPSU
Gatchina B.P. Konstantinov St-Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute of RAS
Pushkin Computer Center of Research Institute for Economy and Management of Agriculture of Russian Academy of Agriculture
Pesochny Research X-Ray and Radiology institute
Voyeykovo The Main Geophysics Laboratory

RUS NWNet St-Petersburg backbone may be connected to Finland via fiber-optic channel of LENENERGO Co, to Moscow - via radio relay line, and to various regional segments of RUNNET via teleport which is being build by SPIFMO now.

9. Future directions

The regional network of St-Petersburg will be a sound base for the future integration of the computer networks of the North-West of Russia. We suppose to launch coordinated projects for deployment of computer networks serving the needs of science, education and culture in largest cities of the North-West of Russia: Novgorod, Pskov, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk, Archangelsk. Coupling the St-Petersburg backbone with all these networks will conclude RUS NWNet creation.

Abbreviation list

RUS NWNet - Regional University and Scientific North-West Network
RUS SPbNet - Regional University and Scientific Network of St-Petersburg
SPSU - St-Petersburg state university
SPSTU - St-Petersburg state technical university
SPIFMO - St-Petersburg institute for fine mechanics and optics
IMI - L.Euler International mathematics institute
SPINP - B.P.Konstantinov St-Petersburg institute of nuclear physics
SPIIASRAS - St-Petersburg Institute of Information and Automation Science of Russian Acad. Sci.
PTI - A.F.Ioffe Physico-technical institute of Russian Acad. Sci.

Back to Index