A global audience recently received a personal demonstration of some of the leading-edge technology being developed at MCNC’s Research & Development Institute.

RDI presented both the latest grid computing services for information retrieval and network provisioning at the 2004 Global Grid Forum conference in Berlin.

MCNC-RDI led the Grid Information Retrieval working group in a discussion about the standardization of interfaces for grid-based information retrieval and announced at the conference that it would be releasing a prototype implementation of the technology. In addition, MCNC-RDI demonstrated its Just-In-Time (JIT) network provisioning protocol.

MCNC-RDI also demonstrated its prototype Grid Information Retrieval (GridIR) implementation for the Global Grid Forum’s Grid Information Retrieval working group. The group was founded by MCNC-RDI and is co-chaired by Kevin Gamiel, a systems analyst programmer for MCNC-RDI. The working group is responsible for establishing the standards for information retrieval for grid computing.

GridIR is a framework that enables search engines to work in a grid environment. The working group seeks to provide a standardized model and communications interface for weaving advanced information retrieval systems across nodes in grid computing environments.

MCNC-RDI says the technology will evolve into a reference implementation as the standards mature.

“By releasing the prototype GridIR toolkit, MCNC-RDI is continuing a tradition of leadership in developing and promoting open standards and open source software in advanced information retrieval,” Gamiel said. “This release is the beginning of a cycle of usage and feedback that will improve the quality of the standards as well as the reference implementation.”

The GridIR toolkit will implement the standard interfaces while providing users the means to use existing investment in information retrieval technology.

Latest protocol ‘Just-In-Time’

MCNC-RDI also introduced the capabilities of its JIT signaling protocol. MCNC-RDI principal scientist Gigi Karmous-Edwards highlighted the protocol’s benefits for big science and high-bandwidth applications. She also introduced a new GridJIT service, software that enables JIT to work in a grid environment.

The JIT signaling protocol provides ultra-fast provisioning of network connections that is being used to create a new optical network service that features fine-grain multiplexing of wavelengths, MCNC-RDI says. The protocol enables the transmission of high capacity signals of different formats, data rates, and protocols.

Karmouse-Edwards of MCNC-RDI says JIT minimizes network latency through the elimination of round-trip handshakes, allowing connections to be quickly (within a few milliseconds) set up and released.

“The GridJIT service is an enabler of grid computing through high-speed, on-demand, application-initiated provisioning of bandwidth,” she says. “In a grid environment, which requires communication among widely dispersed computing and data resources, JIT reduces latency and enables more efficient use of the network.”

Offered through MCNC-RDI’s JIT Protocol Accelerator Controller (JITPAC), the GridJIT service is currently prototyped in both hardware and software versions. It works with existing infrastructure equipment, such as add/drop multiplexers, multi-protocol service platforms, and all-photonic switches.

JITPAC: Functionality in action

MCNC-RDI also showcased the GridJIT service along with an emulation of a JITPAC (software version) controlled switch and a second JIT client allowing grid experts to see the technology’s functionality in action.

Since October 2002, hardware prototypes of the JITPAC and JIT client software have been deployed at the all-optical Advanced Technology Demonstration Network (ATDnet), located in Washington, DC.

End-to-end connections are established within a few milliseconds through JITPACs that are physically interfaced with optical switches from Lambda Optical Systems. ATDnet links host systems at the U.S. Dept. Defense’s Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Center for Computational Science and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The JITPAC is capable of interfacing to all existing commercial off-the-shelf switches via a customizable TL1 or proprietary interfaces for the purpose of controlling the switches, according to MCNC-RDI.

In addition, the RTP group said the JIT control plane is also poised to take advantage of the industry’s emerging optical technology advances, such as bufferless all-photonic switched networks, nano-second optical switch configuration times and wavelength conversion technology.

MCNC-RDI: www.mcnc-rdi.org