By Glenn Ricart
This week we’ve reached an important milestone in the development of the Internet.
On November 5th, the Southeastern Network Access Point (SNAP) was announced. The SNAP provides for an open exchange point for layer 2 software-defined networking traffic, and we at US Ignite are a founding member of SNAP. This is important for a number of reasons, and comes on the heels of decades of work.
In the late 1980s, there were several nascent TCP/IP based networks, including SURAnet — the first of the NSF-funded regional networks to begin operation. These networks were under different administrations and had different purposes.
Could they be interconnected?
The technology was designed to allow it, but as we all know, it’s not so simple as “build it and they will connect.”
At the University of Maryland, College Park, we invited all the various networks to connect to a single location adjacent to the College Park campus. Rick Adams connected UUNET’s TCP/IP network (which followed their UUCP network) to the same location, followed by Bill Shrader connecting his commercial TCIP/IP network, PSInet, to the same location. Anyone who wanted to interconnect could. That was the first open interconnect point for what we now call the Internet.
Since then, hundreds of open interconnect points have been created around the world, and the announcement of SNAP is another great achievement in the journey. Here’s why:
Layer 2 software-defined networking is a key technology for us at US Ignite because it provides low-cost and high-performance networking on which US Ignite applications can run. Software-defined networking gives US Ignite applications isolation, privacy and security.
For example, healthcare applications which need to follow privacy standards like HIPAA will be able to take advantage of separated software-defined networks. Foreign hackers who want to disrupt this traffic are out of luck; they aren’t even on the same network.
Now, cooperating networks can exchange layer 2 software-defined networking traffic at the SNAP. This will lead to greater customer choice, promote competition, and extend the reach available to US Ignite applications.
The NSF-funded GENI (Global Environments for Network Innovation) has been a leader in developing layer 2 networking technology and standards. Internet2 is currently creating a national layer 2 software-defined networking service for research and education.
It’s been nearly 25 years since my team created the first open network access point. I applaud the work of the team that put together the SNAP and look forward to hundreds of new layer 2 software-defined networking open access points around the world.
Special recognition goes to Ron Hutchins, Russ Clark, and others at Georgia Tech who helped nurture the SNAP and solidify the SoX and Atlanta leadership role.
You can read the press release announcing SNAP here.