Architecture of the Multi-Modal Organizational Research and Production Heterogeneous Network (MORPHnet)


9700 South Cass Avenue

Argonne, Illinois 60439

Robert J. Aiken, Richard A. Carlson, Ian T. Foster,

Timothy C. Kuhfuss, Rick L. Stevens, and Linda Winkler

ECT and MCS Divisions

January 1997


The research and education (R&E) community requires persistent and scaleable network infrastructure to concurrently support production and research applications as well as network research. In the past, the R&E community has relied on supporting parallel network and end-node infrastructures, which can be very expensive and inefficient for network service managers and application programmers. The grand challenge in networking is to provide support for multiple, concurrent, multi-layer views of the network for the applications and the network researchers, and to satisfy the sometimes conflicting requirements of both while ensuring one type of traffic does not adversely affect the other. Internet and telecommunications service providers will also benefit from a multi-modal infrastructure, which can provide smoother transitions to new technologies and allow for testing of these technologies with real user traffic while they are still in the pre-production mode. Our proposed approach requires the use of as much of the same network and end system infrastructure as possible to reduce the costs needed to support both classes of activities (i.e., production and research). An initial step is to define multiple layers of production services (i.e., at the physical, network media, network bearer, middle, and application layers) that can be made accessible for concurrent use by the network researcher, manager, or application programmer. Breaking the infrastructure into segments and objects (e.g., routers, switches, multiplexors, circuits, paths, etc.) gives us the capability to dynamically construct and configure the virtual active networks to address these requirements. These capabilities must be supported at the campus, regional, and wide-area network levels to allow for collaboration by geographically dispersed groups. The Multi-Modal Organizational Research and Production Heterogeneous Network (MORPHnet) described in this report is an initial architecture and framework designed to identify and support the capabilities needed for the proposed combined infrastructure and to address related research issues.

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