Skip to main content

Next Generation Networks and Grids

This week I attended a meeting at the ITU in Geneva on the topic of Next Generation Networks (NGNs) and Grids. NGNs are developed by the telco industry to provide a range of services over IP networks. The key to their design is the separation of service provision from transport mechanisms. Traffic may be routed over different types of network, each of which provides a common interface. The same traffic may in turn implement all sorts of services, including voice, television, videoconferencing, data transfer, multiplayer games, and whatever application designers come up with in the future.

So NGNs have a virtualised infrastructure providing a range of user services. They are using Web Services technology and are tackling issues such as security (authentication, authorisation, audit), accounting & billing, service description and deployment. Which all sounds familiar from the Grid world. That's what this workshop was about. In particular, it was to investigate opportunites for the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and the OGF (Open Grid Forum) to work together. Of necessity, much of the time was spent on mutual education - I certainly knew little about NGNs before (although I knew something of BTs incarnation of NGNs, their "21st Century Network").

I was particularly interested in the presentations about Quality of Service (QoS). This is absolutely crucial to NGNs, because different transport mechanisms have different performance characteristics, while different services have different requirements. For example, data services usually demand zero loss of information, while voice can be more relaxed about packet loss provided that enough arrive in time. IPTV has very stringent requirements on both packet loss and arrival time. So the NGN architecture details how QoS requirements can be passed from services to transport mechanisms via a central abstraction.

QoS hasn't received so much attention in the Grid world, but I believe that it will be vital there. Currently Grids are still being installed by experts and used in circumstances where "best effort" performance is satisfactory. (Within a single organisation, "best effort" may be very good quality). There is research that addresses how to specify and establish service-level agreements, but fpr the most part this hasn't been deployed in production grids or entered the standardisation process.

The workshop finished with a discussion of how the ITU and OGF could co-operate on producing standards that address some well-chosen use cases. This seems a potentially valuable partnership. Certainly the ITU can bring expertise in many areas to the Grid world, including audit and accounting. Perhaps the partnership will also advance the state of QoS specification too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…