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IU cultivates connections at international networking conference

International connectivity powers research and discovery, enabling scientists worldwide to collaborate

International network connectivity is the engine that powers scientific research and discovery, making it possible for scientists worldwide to collaboratively meet goals that would be hard to accomplish alone.

Indiana University has long been a major player in the international networking community, working with and learning from partners around the world to advance the technologies that enable scientific collaboration via international networks. In 1998, IU received National Science Foundation funding for the TransPAC network, a high-speed international circuit connecting research and education networks in Asia Pacific and the US. TransPAC is now in its third iteration, having grown and improved through collaborative efforts and knowledge sharing in the international networking community.

In August, IU networking professionals joined their peers at the 36th Asia-Pacific Advanced Networking (APAN) conference to share experiences and collaborate on future projects. Jim Williams, retiring director of IU's International Networking group, attended the Daejeon, South Korea, meeting with incoming director, Jennifer M. Schopf, PhD, and John Hicks, IU principal network systems engineer. 

Sessions focused primarily on current projects at the National Research and Education Centers in various countries, touching on existing and planned links and any political ramifications or obstacles they face. One hundred Gigabits per second (Gbps) transoceanic links were a hot topic, one of special interest to the IU team who recently received NSF funding to help support application scientists with using a 100G testbed. Most of the 100 Gbps links in place now are much shorter scale. The outcomes of the NSF-funded project could help inform a planned trans-Pacific 100 Gbps link, Schopf said.

Williams moderated a half-day session about future networking technologies. He also introduced Schopf to the many contacts he has made at the meeting over the years.

"Jim left me in a wonderful position by introducing me to absolutely everyone and setting me up for success going forward," Schopf said. "He's laid the groundwork in amazing ways. We're shifting from simply putting in circuits to understanding higher-level services and applications."

Shopf's initiation was Williams's swansong. Showing the depth of his involvement with the community, APAN organizers presented Williams with a Lifetime Appreciation Award for his long leadership and guidance in the international networking community.