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Symposium Deep Dive: Network Infrastructure Futures

For the 2023 GÉANT Project Symposium, the programme committee proposed 6 topics which it believed represents some of the most important areas of work that we should be focussing on as part of our future planning in GN5 and beyond. These were intended to be mostly thematic areas that would have an impact on all areas of project development and therefore attract an audience and discussion across all project members.

This series of blog posts gives an overview of those discussions but more importantly seeks to highlight and promote what happens next to ensure that these conversations keep happening and that we commit to the ideas shared in the rooms in Montpellier.

What was the topic for your session at the Symposium?

This session was led by Ivana Golub, Mian Usman,Bram Peeters and Pavle Vuletic and aimed to present and discuss with the audience current activities and future plans related to network infrastructure and services planning, development, operations and maintenance. As the core service at the heart of the GÉANT offer, this conversation has been ongoing and evolving with previous discussions held at Network Evolutions Study Workshops and the GÉANT organised Chief Technology Officer workshops.

Why is it important that GN5 members are thinking about this topic?

The importance of the network for the GEANT project has never been greater. The GN4-3N project has ensured the network is not capacity constrained and has an infrastructure platform suitable for the next 10 years.  However capacity is not the only issue  – We, as a community, need to understand where the network is going next in terms of new services, new ways to deliver services and new opportunities delivered by this infrastructure. In particular emerging technologies such as Quantum, Time and Frequency, and Remote Sensing are fields in which GEANT and the NREN community as a whole are only now starting to investigate.

Overall the theme was to not just consider the network as “More of the Same” but to look beyond Business As Usual into areas we have new capabilities.

These capabilities are available almost uniquely to the NREN community due to our organisational structure and “service first” approach compared to the profit first approach of commercial providers.

What were the main discussion points of your session?

The discussions revolved around not only new services but also how to ensure that services and technologies can be, as far as possible, vendor agnostic. The NREN networks will always be heterogeneous and so network automation and operational data sharing will be key to success and will be part of the planning cycle for 2025 and 2026.

The three main discussion points were:

  • Vendor Engagement.
  • Knowledge Sharing.
  • Multi Vendor/Multi NREN Feature Sets.

What happens next? How will this conversation be continued?

Due to the maturity of the GEANT and NREN network engagement over previous project iterations, there are already very well established planning, consultation and implementation mechanisms to ensure cross-NREN communication.

The focus of these conversations will be around consensus building, sharing best practice and avoiding duplication whilst maintaining the primacy of NREN.

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