For more than ten years, the Network Research and Infrastructure Group (NRIG) at RENCI has been developing specialized cyberinfrastructure critical for advancing computer science and a variety of scientific domains. Their projects are helping scientists use large amounts of data to make new discoveries and have enabled important new advances in distributing computing networks, cloud-based systems, and software-defined networks.
Thousands of computer scientists around the world use the cyberinfrastructure testbeds developed by NRIG to develop and experiment with new software and networking architectures. These activities aim to improve the Internet and ensure next-generation networks can handle large amounts of data securely.
The Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) virtual laboratory project, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was one of NRIG’s first forays into federated research infrastructure. The GENI testbed allows researchers to develop and test networks and distributed applications at scale on a connected system that is separate from the Internet. Research published in more than 370 scientific papers has made use of this virtual laboratory.
NRIG’s director Ilya Baldin is the principal investigator for the portion of GENI known as ExoGENI, which is a distributed edge cloud system testbed. In collaboration with researchers led by Jeff Chase from Duke University, Baldin’s team developed the hardware and software necessary to create the cloud system as well as the middleware that controls access to the testbed.
“ExoGENI gave us experience in running a multi-organizational project involving large distributed systems,” said Baldin. “We had to figure out how to structure software development and how to deal with users for a completely new type of system. This experience and the collaborations we formed have proved critical to the success of many other projects.”
For instance, these experiences helped position NRIG to contribute to the NSF-funded cloud network platform known as Chameleon Cloud. This testbed provides tools for computer scientists to conceptualize, assemble, and try new cloud computing approaches. NRIG’s Paul Ruth is co-principal investigator of Chameleon Cloud, which launched in 2015 and entered its third phase of funding in 2020.
Scientists have used Chameleon Cloud to study power management, operating systems, virtualization, high performance computing, distributed computing, networking, security, machine learning, and more. In the third phase of the project, the RENCI team will develop new options for software-defined networking that will allow Chameleon to be compatible with the new NSF-funded FABRIC testbed.
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