The tremendous speed of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) is able to offer a bandwidth of a thousand times the capacity of the current Internet. Based on innovative methods to integrate video, audio, and data transactions, the NGI initiative provides a host of new possibilities to apply e-business. The Advanced Internet Application Center will concentrate in particular on the European development of advanced applications and all matching middleware in the following domains:
- Video/audio storage and distribution, including media management and distribution;
- Distributed storage, including replication and caching;
- Collaborative applications, such as video-conferencing, collective use of applications, and IP-telecommunication.
The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Mrs. Annemarie Jorritsma, was given the honour of opening the Advanced Internet Center in Zoetermeer. This is the second international IBM centre among an increasing number of intensively collaborating research centres, that especially aim at addressing themselves to the development of Next Generation Internet solutions.
Since IBM has been connected via fast networks anywhere in the world to universities and companies, academic researchers have the opportunity to work in team on new high-performance prototype-applications for the Next Generation Internet. At present, researchers from the Advanced Internet Application Center collaborate with an IBM team of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) in Chicago, to design applications for video and distribution. At the same time, these researchers are also closely involved in the Gigaport initiative, initiated by the Dutch government.
Bert Dekkers, who is Advanced Internet Project Manager for IBM, stated that the establishment of the Advanced Internet Application Center enhances the development of the latest Internet technologies which will enable the further growth of e-business in general. The Netherlands provide an ideal location for the foundation of this centre, since the country offers a very high level of research and development in the Internet area. From a geographical point of view, its central position makes it easy to cover the whole of Europe.
Industry, the academic world, SURFnet, and the Telematics Institute form the privileged partners of the European centre. Several leading institutions have set up projects with the Advanced Internet Application Center, such as NOB, the Dutch Broadcasting and Producing Company; SARA, the centre for supercomputing at the University of Amsterdam, and TNO Delft, the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research.
The Advanced Internet Application Center is one of the IBM initiatives in the Netherlands which are focused on the Next Generation Internet. The centre equally has strong links with the f142 million Gigaport project, launched by the Dutch government. The Gigaport project has been set up to establish one of the most advanced communication networks in the world. Through this network, it is possible to considerably speed up the exchange of information between academic institutions, scientific centres and corporate partners in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Economy on a global scale is changing rapidly because of the tremendous increase of advanced applications in the two domains of information and telecommunications technologies. For the future economical structure in The Netherlands and Europe, a strong collaboration with regard to the information "gateway" and Gigaport is of capital importance, according to Amandus Lundqvist, who is Country General Manager of IBM for The Netherlands.
During the opening ceremony of the Advanced Internet Applications Center, IBM, together with its partners, demonstrated a few of the applications that are currently available via the Next Generation Internet. Some examples of prototype-applications which already can be performed with the aid of the new Internet are:
- IBM video portal with live video broadcast via the iCAIR connection
- TV on Demand
- Virtual Radiology
- Synchronic translation of language and instant messaging
- e-business via interactive TV
Virtual Radiology Explorer is a project in which IBM collaborates with the University of Amsterdam to develop a revolutionary technology to compose and transmit three-dimensional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of the human body. The scans can be sent via the new Internet from a hospital to the supercomputer at the Unidersity of Amsterdam for analysis, and back to the hospital. This allows the physicians to fully benefit from the enormous performance of computers which otherwise are not available to the hospital.
The 3D images enable the doctors to make better diagnoses for patients with tumours or people, who suffer from cardiovascular disease. Patients are far better treated in this way. Moreover, physicians do not necessarily have to be in the same location, to visualise and discuss the patients' 3D images. In this application, the fastest IBM computer in the Netherlands is being used, which is the RS/6000 SP supercomputer, hosted at SARA, the centre for supercomputing at the University of Amsterdam. For a technical description of the Virtual Radiology Explorer project, please read the VMW article Virtual Radiology Explorer uses supercomputing power to enable medical visualization in the April 1999 issue.