Ufes researchers will be able to explore network programmability in the RARE testbed

Researchers from the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes) will be able to carry out experiments in the area of computer networks, involving the technologies of software defined networks (SDN) and new generation mobile telephony networks (5G, 6G and beyond), in an international research environment. The experiments can be carried out in the RARE testbed environment, maintained by the pan-European academic network, Géant, which uses the network programming language called P4.

Through the partnership between Géant and the National Education and Research Network (RNP), state-of-the-art equipment (1 P4 Switch and 1 10 Gbps Data Transfer Server Node) located in Brazil were integrated with computational resources of the RARE experimentation environment , in Europe. This integration was made possible by the BELLA project's new direct and extremely high-speed submarine cable connection between Europe and Latin America.

Brazil-Ireland Cooperation

The first research group in Brazil to carry out experiments on the RARE testbed was the Center for Studies in Software-Defined Networks (NERDS) at Ufes, under the coordination of Professors Moisés R. N. Ribeiro and Magnos Martinello. At first, an interconnection was made between Ufes and Trinity College Dublin (TCD/Ireland), to allow Ufes researchers to carry out international experiments integrating technologies such as NFV and SDN/P4.

The interconnection was made possible by the partnership between RNP and Géant, and the help of the academic networks in Ireland, HEAnet, and in France (Renater). “This interconnection will allow Brazilian researchers to have access to state-of-the-art equipment and an environment for experimentation on an international scale for research on new generation networks,” celebrated RNP's Cyberinfrastructure R&D manager, Marcos Schwarz.

The collaboration between Ufese and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) began in 2016 with the EU-BR FOOTBALL project (2016-2019), which provided researchers with access to advanced wireless and optical experimental facilities in Europe and Brazil. On that occasion, TCD hosted Ufes interns in Dublin, who were able to conduct research on low-latency data plans and wireless optical integration.

About the RARE project

The RARE testbed is a network of P4 switches managed by the pan-European research center Géant. The purpose of RARE is to allow researchers to develop and test new protocols by exploring features such as the disaggregation of functionality from the data and control plans. One of these protocol innovations is the source routing solution that eliminates the need to use tables in switches. 

About POLKA

POLKA (Polynomial Key-based Architecture for Source Routing in Network Fabrics) is the result of the evolution of research by the group of researchers at Ufes on the subject of Software-Defined Networking, which began in 2012. Recently, POLKA was tested on a continental scale by the French academic network Renater, in the RARE network in production.

According to the researchers at Ufes, the advantage of POLKA is to simultaneously provide low-latency packet forwarding and fast route switching. Therefore, POLKA can become an essential tool in specific scenarios where traffic engineering needs to respond quickly to changes in the traffic matrix or in the state of the links with minimal disruption of service to clients that require low latency. These requirements are present in new applications served by 5G networks and also, for example, in cloud robotics and tactile internet.

TCD's participation in RARE is to provide additional node infrastructure for the network, to support the development of the data and control plan architectures, and to develop innovative use cases. In this sense, Trinity College Dublin installed and hosts a P4 switch in Dublin that integrates with RARE, as well as a DTN node (traffic simulation), which will be used by Ufes, RNP and other RARE researchers in an integrated manner.

In the view of Prof. Moisés Ribeiro from Ufes, an additional gain obtained by the effective use of the RARE testbed was that strategic partnerships were expanded to such an extent within Géant that today it is possible to fully incorporate POLKA into the regular catalog of protocols available to RARE users. “This means bringing POLKA's functionalities to other hardware platforms, such as the DPDK and BMv2”, commented the researcher.

Google recently selected the research leader, Prof. Cristina Dominicini, to receive one of four "2021 Research Scholar Grants" in the area of "networking" to advance POLKA's initial results. In addition to financial resources, the team, which involves other professors from the Federal Institute of Espirito Santo (Ifes), has received technical tutoring from Google to position POLKA in other challenging network scenarios that can be tested with access to the RARE testbed, available by RNP to Ufes.

According to Frank Slyne, head of the project at Trinity College Dublin, researchers from both institutions were able to gain access to large global research networks such as Autogole (GNA-G) and bandwidth delivery control platforms such as SENSE. “We expect to test 10Gb/s traffic between Ireland and Brazil in 2022 and dynamically provision circuits using the OpenNSA protocol. This will allow a high degree of flexibility in how researchers in fields such as medicine, physics and geophysics from both countries can request large bandwidths without the cost and delay of lengthy contracts,” explains Slyne..

To learn more about RARE testbed, see the video about the project on the latest TNC 21.

POLKA was tested on RARE during the 25th edition of the International Conference on Design and Modeling of Optical Fiber Networks (ONDM' 21). Access the article and the presentation video.

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