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IU wins nearly $9 million to manage, improve international networks

IU wins nearly $9 million to manage, improve international research networks

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Two new National Science Foundation grants to Indiana University — totaling $8.6 million — call on long-standing expertise to manage and analyze the networks that power the agency's international research and education collaborations. IU has now earned more than $13 million in NSF international networking awards this year.

The IU Global Research Network Operations Center, or GlobalNOC, won a $3.6 million award to manage the Network Operations Center for the NSF's International Research Network Connections-funded infrastructure projects. The program supports the continuous high-performance network connectivity required by today’s researchers to analyze and share vast amounts of data with colleagues around the world.

"Through its management of several of the world’s most advanced research and education networks, the IU GlobalNOC and its team of highly talented network engineers and technicians continue to enable major developments and discoveries in science, education, engineering and the humanities. Indeed, they are shaping the future of advanced academic research," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie, who helped found the GlobalNOC in 1998. "We are extremely pleased to receive these generous grants, and we look forward to helping the NSF better connect our nation’s top researchers with colleagues, knowledge and information all across the globe."

The new Network Operations Center will focus on proactive support and end-to-end performance assessment, taking advantage of GlobalNOC's networking monitoring toolset for comprehensive availability statistics, dashboards and operations reports. The GlobalNOC Service Desk will serve as the centralized first point of contact and communication for the international network's management, including all the backbone connections and exchange points that enable information exchange between networks.

"The GlobalNOC has nearly 20 years of experience managing some of the most powerful research and education networks in the world, and we plan to capitalize on this expertise as we move forward with the IRNC project," said David Jent, IU associate vice president of networks and project principal investigator. "Thanks to this new NOC, the NSF will have its first-ever snapshot of the entirety of its IRNC program: Who’s using it, what the usage levels are like, how it works — and that’s exciting to us."

The second award is a five-year, $5 million grant to fund NetSage, a network measurement, analysis and visualization project addressing state-of-the-art challenges in today’s international research and education networks. IU will serve as the lead institution, working with partners at the University of California, Davis and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

"NetSage gives us a measurement-based understanding of how the NSF’s research and education network infrastructure performs and how it’s used, allowing us to better engineer future networks in support of large-scale scientific data flows," said Jennifer Schopf, IU director of international networks and NetSage principal investigator. "Think about it like a traffic sensor on the freeway that provides the data state officials need to make decisions about new roads and traffic patterns. In effect, NetSage is our network traffic sensor, helping us see network congestion and other traffic issues."

The two new awards come on the heels of IU’s announcement in March of a five-year, $4.8 million NSF grant to fund TransPAC4, the high-speed network that connects researchers in the U.S. with their counterparts in Asia.

"I am delighted that the NSF has again selected IU to lead the important work of NetSage and the IRNC network operations center," said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer. "Along with IU’s recent NSF award for Asia Pacific networking, and with our many partners, we again affirm almost 20 years of IU leadership in the critical areas of international research networks."

Both grants are part of the NSF’s International Research Network Connections program. NetSage is award #1540933, and the IRNC Network Operations Center is award #1450934.

About the Global Research Network Operations Center

The Global Research Network Operations Center, or GlobalNOC, at IU is an operations and engineering organization supporting advanced international, national, regional and local high-performance research and education networks including Internet2, NOAA and Indiana’s own I-Light.

About IU International Networks

International Networks at IU leads two large-scale international research networks that link scientists around the world -- the NSF-funded America Connects to Europe network and TransPAC4, which connects the U.S. to Asia.