Along with concurrent Internet2 projects across the nation, the research could have as profound an impact as the introduction of today's Internet. Working collaboratively, Georgia Tech and NC State are delving into quality of service (QoS) sensitive multimedia applications using a wide-area network and different data delivery service levels. The research has far-reaching consequences for revolutionising applications over the Internet.
The two universities and BellSouth are part of the Internet2 United States consortium, whose purpose it is to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, facilitating experimentation and research into broadband Internet capabilities, and creating a prototype which may one day drive advanced applications throughout the world.
"BellSouth has a keen interest in driving the development of Internet2 technologies, since we expect to incorporate the technologies into BellSouth's state-of-the-art network", noted Dr. David Kettler, the BellSouth vice-president for Science&Technology and chief architect. "Ultimately, our customers will benefit from these technologies and BellSouth's evolving network infrastructure, a network that already delivers a robust foundation for e-business and home computing applications."
Kettler leads BellSouth's Science & Technology, which is responsible for the planning and implementation of a fundamental transformation of the BellSouth network from circuit-based to packet-based technologies. The BellSouth Science & Technology has a strong history of sharing and participating in research and development with prominent universities. This research is another step in BellSouth's ongoing co-operative effort to push the industry forward to deliver the services and capabilities that BellSouth customers demand now and in the future.
More than a faster Web or e-mail, the new technologies being researched by universities, such as Georgia Tech and NC State will enable completely new applications, including digital libraries, virtual laboratories, tele-immersion, and distance-independent learning. For example, rather than watching TV, consumers may one day have access to programmes reminiscent of Star Trek's "holo-deck", a virtual reality, three-dimensional movie in which the watcher is "inside" the movie.
For businesses, the new technologies may someday empower long distance completely immersive collaboration, significantly enhancing overall business processes and efficiency. For higher education centres, Internet2 will enable virtual laboratories where a researcher is "immersed" three-dimensionally in data or images of microscopic cells or distant suns. The research being performed by NC State, Georgia Tech and others on Internet2 could make these applications a reality in as little as 10 years from now.
"To me, BellSouth's technical input into the project plans and direction will be as important as their financial contribution, as this will improve the direct relevance of the research", stated Dr. Mostafa Ammar, professor in Georgia Tech's College of Computing and the principal investigator of the Tech portion of the project. "Enhancing the current Internet with QoS functions will greatly improve the global network's ability to support high-quality multimedia applications. This progress in turn enables a significant improvement over the quality of existing Internet services and the creation of innovative services which we may not even be able to imagine today."
"We are very excited and look forward to this opportunity to, jointly with Georgia Tech, conduct Internet2 experiments as well as research on a regional and national basis", commented Dr. Mladen Volk, professor of computer science at NC State. "We plan to use a combination of long-distance state-of-the-art high-speed networking links which join our two universities, as well as a suite of QoS-sensitive end-user applications, to study network-level, middleware-level and application level Internet2-type QoS mechanisms, policies and needs. We plan a series of joint practical demonstrations of our technologies."
As one of many BellSouth-supported research initiatives, this Georgia Tech/NC State collaboration aims to provide a greater understanding of the use of QoS mechanisms to offer different data delivery service levels. By classifying a network's traffic based upon the use of various criteria, such as the type of application, or the user of the network, the QoS techniques can prioritise or otherwise manage traffic flows to improve a network's overall speed and efficiency for specific needs, such as video transmission or voice calls. With the explosion of Internet traffic and the increasing needs of data-networking applications, it is of capital importance that mission-critical traffic receives the appropriate level of network resources. This research will develop an operational framework for deploying and testing QoS technology across a wide area network and across multiple domains.
To provide operational experience, the project will work with three advanced applications: real time, full-motion stereo microscopy, such as it would be used for remote micro-surgery; the Web Lecture System for network-based education paradigms and workflows; and an Interactive Multimedia Jukebox with entertainment quality video. By using these three applications, Georgia Tech as well as NC State will utilise the differentiated services technology to discover how it may be applied to provide excellent quality of service to high-tech applications.