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Longterm DARPA Project Yields Inter-Cloud Connectivity Breakthrough

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IBM Research, together with AT&T and Applied Communication Sciences, announced the first cloud technology breakthrough of the long-term DARPA CORONET project. The proof-of-concept technology reduces set-up times for cloud-to-cloud connectivity from days to seconds.

IBM and AT&T started the project way back in 2006. Funded by the DARPA CORONET program, the technology is of great interest to the U.S. Department of Defense. However, one of the program’s goals is to make this technology available commercially.

The companies claim this technology could one day lead to sub-second provisioning time with IP and next-generation optical networking equipment. It enables elastic bandwidth between clouds at high connection-request rates using intelligent cloud data center orchestrators, instead of requiring static provisioning for peak demand.

AT&T was responsible for developing the overall networking architecture for this concept. IBM provided the cloud platform and intelligent cloud data center orchestration technologies to support dynamic provisioning. ACS contributed expertise in network management and innovations in optical-layer routing and signaling as part of the overall cloud networking architecture.

The technology uses intelligence in the cloud to:

  • Request bandwidth from pools of network connectivity when needed by an application
  • Release it back when it’s no longer needed
  • Dynamically connect various cloud networks on the fly — within seconds — when there is a need to share data or resources, or provision a real-time connection to a back-up cloud in the event of a disaster or other demand spike

“The program was visionary in anticipating the convergence of cloud computing and networking and in setting aggressive requirements for network performance in support of cloud services” said Ann Von Lehmen, the ACS program lead.

Developed for defense but has commercial applications

The original program goal was to enable affordable and fast bandwidth on demand between clouds, ensuring the survival of cloud networks in the event of multiple and system-wide failures. If disaster strikes, this was a way to connect cloud computing networks on the fly to immediately share resources and computing power in order to keep the Internet and the government running.

This prototype was implemented on OpenStack, an open-source cloud-computing platform for public and private clouds, elastically provisioning WAN connectivity and placing virtual machines between two clouds for the purpose of load balancing virtual network functions. The use of flexible, on-demand bandwidth for cloud applications, such as load balancing, remote data center backup operation and elastic scaling of workload provides the potential for major cost savings and operational efficiency for both cloud service providers and carriers.

“This technology not only represents a new ability to scale Big Data workloads and cloud computing resources in a single environment, but the elastic bandwidth model removes the inefficiency in consumption versus cost for cloud-to-cloud connectivity,” said Douglas Freimuth, IBM Research senior technical staff member and master inventor. “IBM Research brought a unique understanding of both cloud environments and networking infrastructures, which made us an ideal collaborator for this project.”

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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