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History & Vision

Pacific Wave History

Building on the successful operation of public internet exchanges created by the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1996, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) and Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) jointly announced the deployment of a geographically distributed peering facility called Pacific Wave in January 2004. With locations in Los Angeles, Sunnyvale and Seattle, Pacific Wave formed the first distributed Internet Exchange aimed at improving cost-effective access for research and education networks across the Pacific.

Thanks in part to two separate five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) International Research Network Connections (IRNC) awards, Pacific Wave has expanded to include 30 network connections, supporting 29 countries as of 2015. Working with colleagues at the StarLight Exchange, services have been extended and expanded to Chicago, and similar extensions have connected the University of Hawaii to Australia and New Zealand.

At the close of the 10-year Translight/Pacific Wave project, Pacific Wave supports 100-Gbps interconnections and the growing needed for high-bandwidth connections to support scientists and researchers.


The Vision

The creation of Pacific Wave proved that a distributed Internet exchange could work, and it has paved the way for other exchanges to follow suit. For more than twenty years, Pacific Wave has done more than just envision super high-performance and highly flexible interconnection, exchange and peering among research and education (R&E) networks and connectors; it has set the standard for research and education exchanges everywhere.

Recognizing the diverse needs of different networks, connectors, and users, Pacific Wave has followed its vision of providing the flexibility and adaptability to leverage application and project opportunities that evolve at the breakneck speed of rapidly changing technologies. It is a vision of enabling network managers and users maximal choice and diversity of approaches to meet their needs while at the same time providing the highest-performing interconnection, exchange and peering available anywhere.

To that end, the enhancement of the initial footprint to create a loop from Seattle to Los Angeles through Denver, Albuquerque and El Paso is already underway with 100Gbps capacity in operation from Seattle to El Paso. The final segment from El Paso to Los Angeles will be completed by the end of December 2015, and a link from Denver to Chicago was recently upgraded to 100Gbps. These upgrades will free up the original 10Gbps footprint for use in SDN/SDX experimentation.

Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) has also established the world’s first 100Gbps R&E network link between Asia and the U.S., with related transit, peering, and exchange fabric. Pacific Wave is collaborating with Indiana University to provide this 100Gbps capability between Seattle and Tokyo. Pacific Wave recently received a five-year NSF IRNC award to serve as the U.S. Pacific Rim’s open and distributed interconnection, peering, and exchange fabric, including Software-Defined Exchange (SDX), Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and research DMZ capabilities.

The IRNC:RXP project will allow Pacific Wave to expand its infrastructure to facilitate growth in ‘production-oriented’ international network connectivity. It will also allow Pacific Wave to increase backbone capacity between Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay, and Seattle to meet peak science needs, and to deploy and test SDX capability within Pacific Wave in collaboration with other IRNC RXP-SDX sites and related developers. This award funds the enhancement and expansion of the Pacific Wave production infrastructure to support multiple 100Gbps connections among U.S.-based research and education networks and international counterparts from countries of the Pacific Rim, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Many research and education networks are developing novel network architectures based on Software-Defined Networking to better support the demands of the science and engineering communities that they serve. Project activities also include the development of a parallel set of network connection facilities comprising a distributed Software-Defined Exchange to interconnect these emerging Software-Defined Networks.

Pacific Wave also supports the NSF-funded Pacific Research Platform (PRP), which is creating a framework for interoperable Science DMZs to facilitate large data transfers. The PRP, led by researchers at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, integrates Science DMZs, an architecture developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), into a high-capacity regional “freeway system.” This system makes it possible for large amounts of scientific data to be moved between scientists’ labs and their collaborators’ sites, supercomputer centers or data repositories, even in the cloud.

The PRP supports a broad range of data-intensive research projects between participating institutions, which include all 10 UC campuses, as well as select universities and research facilities across the region and beyond that will have wide-reaching impacts on science and technology. Cancer genomics, galaxy evolution research, climate modeling, and the creation of virtual reality gaming systems are just of few of the projects that will benefit from the use of the PRP.

Moving forward, Pacific Wave is extending its reach to allow more interconnection points and additional experimentation with new technologies. Pacific Wave will also continue to participate in the research of software-defined Internet exchanges with the goal of providing researchers easier access to resources worldwide. 

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Featured Presentation

From biomedical data to particle physics, today nearly all research and data analysis involves remote collaboration. In order to work effectively and efficiently on multi-institutional projects, researchers depend heavily on high-speed access to large datasets and computing resources. The PRP integrates the Science DMZ architecture into a high-capacity regional “freeway system,” making it possible for large amounts of scientific data to be moved between scientists’ labs and their collaborators’ sites, supercomputer centers or data repositories, even in the cloud. 
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