About StarLight SDX

StarLight SDX for International Data-Intensive Science Research and Education

Information technology advancements in abstraction and virtualization architectures and techniques, notably resource virtualization and enhanced programmability – such as Software Defined Networks (SDN) – are transforming networking services for large-scale data-intensive science and providing opportunities for new major innovations. One major area of opportunity is SDN Exchanges (SDXs), which have the potential to fundamentally improve all major communications exchanges by providing granular matches between requirements and services. Realizing this potential requires integrated processes for research and development, rapid prototyping, and innovation migration into production services – processes established and developed as international cooperative partnership activities – to support international science research and education (R&E) communities.

The StarLight International/National Software Defined Networking Exchange (SDX) focuses on research, development, and deployment of services, architectures, and technologies designed to provide scientists, engineers, and educators with highly advanced, diverse, reliable, persistent, and secure networking services, enabling them to optimally send and receive large datasets between laboratories and major high-performance computing sites around the world.

The StarLight SDX initiative expands upon existing and emerging experimental and prototype SDN, SDX, and Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI) architectures and technologies through the development of advanced communication services, in part, by leveraging existing designs and developments, by collaborating with many domain-science and computer-science research and education (R&E) communities and open exchanges worldwide, and by investigating, experimenting with, demonstrating, and prototyping new innovations that can contribute to these communities.

The StarLight SDX initiative focuses on three main activities: (1) designing and implementing the StarAX (StarLight Advanced eXchange) Innovation Engine to ensure that SDX facilities worldwide are compatible and interoperable; (2) deploying instances of this system at the StarLight facility; and, (3) coordinating and collaborating with global partners to deploy such systems at their exchange points.

In essence, the StarLight SDX facility serves as an incubator for new services and technologies that, when proven through experiments, trials, and demonstrations, are migrated to advanced R&E production facilities worldwide. Innovations are transformative, providing these facilities with new capabilities for service customization that benefit global domain science teams.

The International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University, the Calit2-Qualcomm Institute (Calit2-QI) at University of California at San Diego, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago are undertaking this SDX development project in partnership with research organizations, advanced R&E Networks, R&E Open Exchanges, and science communities around the world (see Partners).

Intellectual Merit. The StarLight consortium has been managing and operating an R&E Open Exchange for over 20 years, and focuses on research, development, and deployment of services, architectures, and technologies that provide scientists, engineers, and educators with highly advanced, diverse, reliable, persistent, and secure networking services, enabling them to optimally access resources around the world. The StarLight facility supports multiple international links, high-capacity connectivity to Internet2, ESnet, all major federal agency networks, regional /state / local networks, key research facilities worldwide, and multiple network testbeds. Today, StarLight’s policies, processes, and techniques are transforming the IRNC StarLight SDX into an innovation platform that supports an incubator stream, a pipeline for new services, architectures, and technologies, which, when proven through experiments, trials, and demonstrations, are migrated to production environments. StarLight’s continual innovations and achievements are due to its extensive partnerships, including collaborations creating SDX innovations substantially improving global open exchanges, R&E networks, and services for science communities.

Broader Impacts. Advanced networking is transforming the way scientists and future scientists manage the scale, complexity, and transportation of their data so they can more rapidly address problems of national priority, thereby benefiting communities worldwide. Many StarLight innovations have been adopted into operational practice by National R&E Networks, open exchanges and network testbeds around the world. StarLight also innovates for scientists; e.g., embedding new network services tools and techniques directly into notebooks that researchers use to manage their scientific workflows. The StarLight consortium communicates advanced network concepts through workshops, conferences, standards organization participation, experiments, demonstrations, publications, presentations, and other public forum activities, with close collaborations with R&E network managers, engineers, network research communities, and science domain researchers.