The official newsletter of CEENGINE project, Issue 2, October 2011

Farewell to Jacek Gajewski

photo of Michal Przybylski

If you ever worked with CEENet, you surely must have met Jacek. For over 15 years, Jacek was deeply involved in CEENET, most of the time serving as CEENET Secretary General. I can say that since I knew him, he was the main driving force of CEENET activities. Numerous NATO workshops, conferences and meetings could not happen without his engagement. Together we have initiated Porta Optica Study, and together we had pursued CEENGINE. But since there is never a bad time for the change, Jacek decided to leave CEENet. The good point is that he will not leave our community - he will just shift to another level. As of December 2011, Jacek will become a full-time ISOC employee with the seat in Geneva, but his mission will remain more or less the same - he will provide support everywhere the Internet is under-developed, and I believe we will meet again frequently. I do regret his leave, but at the same time wish him a good luck.

Michal Przybylski, CEENGINE Project Manager

And the project goes on...

Project Coordiator: Michal Przybylski, michal@everycom.pl

One third of the project has already passed. This was quite a difficult period, since it was the first time that CEENet managed and executed such a big project. Initially we have struggled with mobilizing the resources - we are one of few examples of organisations where all members work remotely. But at the same time we have reached all objectives planned for this period:

  • secured the contacts to most important user communities
  • gathered the information on the political and economical environment of NRENs
  • procured the information on NRENs technology and equipment
  • prepared the benchmark tool and tested first networks
  • finalized (with partners) preparations for the 1st CEENGINE's Policy Workshop in Bucharest
  • We are also happy with the performance of our R&D support workpackage (WP4). Our user community database already helps us to disseminate the information on common research opportunities. Enough to say, that at each moment there are at least three cooperation activities supported by CEENGINE

Visit our website.

Only 1 month till the NREN Policy Workshop (7-8 November 2011)

Work package 5

Managed by Oliver Popov, popov@dsv.su.se

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The CEENGINE NREN Policy Workshop (organized with TERENA, SEERA-EI, HP-SEE within the Eastern Europe Partnership Event, will be held in Bucharest in less than a month. This exclusive, closed meeting will host prominent representatives from Europe and its neighbours. The lists of invitees and speakers include ministries, heads of NRENs, EC representatives and managers of the most successful research networking projects.

The objective of the event is to bring together NRENs with their decision makers and to exchange the information and ideas of the latest NRENs development directions.

The event is hosted by the National Authority for Scientific Research of Romania in collaboration with RoEduNet and will take place at the Howard Johnson Grand Plaza Hotel Bucharest.

Go to the event website

100 Power users identified

Work Package 2

Managed by Krassimir Simonski, ksimonski@gmail.com

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WP2 has finally reached its first milestone – the first version of users database counts over 100 entries (all power-users). This is just the first round of research – we have asked 35 NRENs and we get good responses from 24 organisations, including such remote as Uganda and Vietnam.

Unfortunately we did not get answers from 11 NRENs, 6 of them being GEANT partners, 2 did not have an NREN established yet (Albania and Kosovo), 2 countries are still in the process of gathering information (Tadjikistan, Afghanistan) and we did not manage to establish a contact with Bangladesh.

Those countries, which answered to the questionnaire, provided the data of over 100 Power Users able to cooperate in EU research, CEENGINE geographical area of operations. We were also provided with important data on NRENs constituency, funding, relation to the universities and academia.

The early working results of the survey were put to the website at the address www.ceengine.eu/users

First NREN benchmarking results

Work Package 3

Managed by Andrey Mendkovich, asm@free.net

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The NRENs survey has been completed!

Benchmarking software has been selected and benchmarks were performed on selected NRENs. We have received 23 responses to our infrastructure questionnaire, which is a good outcome, taking into account quite detailed information we have required. While we need to wait a bit for the full analysis of the responses, we are now sharing the quick results of measurements.

Watch our website to learn about the position of your network in our ranking.

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Full measurement data is available at www.ceengine.eu/nrens

Advisory board

It is our pleasure to inform, that the Advisory Board of CEENGINE project has constituted with the following experts:

  • George Sadowsky , Global Internet Policy Initiative, USA
  • Prof. Stella Atkins , School of Computing Science, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada
  • Academician Kiril Boyanov , Institute for Parallel Processing, Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
  • Prof. Alexander Rusakov , P.G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University, Russia
  • Prof. Vadim Novotny , Uzbekistan Scientific Network, Uzbekistan
  • Miroslaw Maj , Foundation Secure Cyberspace, Poland
  • Dr Bhushan Raj Shrestha , Nepal Research and Education Network, Nepal
  • Anne Märdimäe , Estonian Education and Research Network, Estonia
  • Prof. Love Ekenberg , DSV, Stockholm University, Sweden

News from CEENGINE

Here are some important news from CEENGINE and around

Ukraine - understanding NRENs in the East

Map of UARNET

The situation of research networking in Ukraine is quite complex and different than that in the Western Europe. Understanding it is a key to the future evaluation of a number of other Eastern European states. With this article, we have tried to investigate the situation of Ukraine, hoping for somehow easy NREN presentation, but we ended up with complex picture, yet worth analyzing.

First of all, as the legacy of former organization of education and research in the past political system, there are competing centers of administrative power that are aiming at the leadership of the research Internet in Ukraine. The landscape here was shaped by the Ministry of Education (ME) who takes care for the universities and National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who had their own institutes to connect. In the result, Ukraine has two, frankly speaking competing research networks. There are also ambitions for third one (organized by most prominent Kiev university), but since it is still premature, we will not include it in the picture.

UARNET – a child of NAS

The first research Internet connectivity was established as early as in 1993, when the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Lviv, has built 9600 bit/s link to Warsaw (NASK). The cost of this connectivity was covered in full by Polish and Austrian governments. Later on, the first satellite connection to the Internet via Polish NREN NASK (64 Kbit/s) was procured in cooperation with Swedish Space Agency. Already in 1994 the Institute registered in RIPE with its own AS number. From 1996 all financial support from abroad ended and all cost had to be covered by the Ukrainian side.

This activity, then exercised under the umbrella of the Institute, laid the foundation for future Ukrainian Academic Research Network (UARNET, www.uar.net ) which was officially registered in 20 February 1999 as the state-owned enterprise. The natural center of gravity for UARNET was Western Ukraine and its first customers recruited from the Institutes of NAS. At this time UARNET could boast 64Kbit/s backbone between Lviv and Kiev and 512Kbit/s uplink to NORDUNET in Stockholm (upgraded to 1Mbit/s a year later). Initially all international connectivity for UARNET was provided by research links to NORDUNET.

UARNET was from the very beginning operating in the business model, where the connectivity fees from its users provided the company budget for implementation and operations of the network. The network receives no budgetary grants for its activities at all.

Today UARNET operates their own DWDM systems in the backbone, and their multi-lambda international connectivity reaches total capacity of over 100Gbit/s.

The user base of UARNET includes over 50 NAS institutes, 40 universities, 80 research institutes and several hundreds of schools and colleges, what makes it the largest “NREN” of Ukraine. In addition, UARNET connects also commercial customers.

Map of URAN

URAN – connecting universities

URAN is a bit younger than UARNET. In 1997, the Ministry of Education of Ukraine initiated the activities leading to the establishment of Internet provider for the higher education institutions in Ukraine. The timing was good due to the possibility of receiving much-needed NATO grants to build the metropolitan area networks. But to receive such funding, the country needed to be represented by a single entity. The agreement was reached between NAS ad ME and Ukrainian Research and Academic Network (URAN, www.uran.net.ua) was established on June 20th, 1997.

As the result of the agreement, URAN was officially selected to represent Ukraine to other research networks and to funding bodies and UARNET network allowed URAN to use its resources. Subsequent NATO Infrastructure Grants (NIG 971779 in 1997, NIG 975961 in 2000, NIG 978384 in 2001, NIG 981531 in 2004, NIG 983279 in 2008) and ME grants enabled the construction of MANs and lease of inter-city connectivity.

To strengthen the position of URAN, in March 13th, 2006 the Association of Users of Ukrainian Research-Education Network (URAN Association) was established and registered in the Ministry of Education and Science with the objective of further supporting the URAN network. From now on it is important to differentiate that URAN is the name of the physical network, while URAN Association is the name of the governing body of URAN.

The initial member list (2006) included 40 universities and there are currently 79 members of the association, including 6 units of NAS.

Is there a “Research Internet” in Ukraine?

The major difference between NRENs in Ukraine and in the Western Europe lies in the fact that NRENS are subject to (almost) the same market conditions as any other enterprise. There are no regulations that would put them in a privileged position towards serving education and research users. In particular it means that any university willing to connect to a research network must announce a tender for connectivity that can be won by any operator giving the lowest price. The non-tendering limits are quite low (up to 100.000 UAH/year = approx. 780 EUR/month) and this is usually the price that must be offered by NREN to the research user to provide connectivity without the tender. This is true for both – URAN and UARNET. The difference is that URAN (with somehow smaller reach and user base) is receiving the budgetary grants in addition to user fees while UARNET depends solely on the fees of its users. Another issue is that both networks have significant number of education and research users. Such a state leads to troublesome situations, where fiber procured by NREN to serve an university remains unused, because some other commercial operator provided price lower than the NREN could to still support the fiber maintenance.

With such situation it is easy to imagine that any 3rd party operator may gain some share of the R&E networking market using competitive pricing – would it be called NREN too? While it is not an objective of this article to answer this question, the issue is worth to remember for the future discussion.

International connectivity

In 2002 UARNET (that also provides a number of domestic and international links to URAN) ceased to operate costly links (both commodity Internet and research traffic) to NORDUNET and instead, with the same funding, procured much more capable international connectivity from Tier 1 operators. For the gross of its academic users, the economic benefits of cheap Internet connectivity were prevailing over the potential benefits of direct connectivity to research institutions in Europe.

As of today, UARNET operates 7x10Gbit/s lambdas to Frankfurt/M, where they interconnect with international Tier 1 operators and Internet Exchanges. There are also 8x10Gbit/s lambdas to RETN in Russia.

GEANT connectivity & cross border fiber

In 2007, following the trend of “cross border fiber”, UARNET decided to launch potentially cost-effective cross-border connectivity to Poznan, Poland and further to GEANT. The connection was build partially on PIONIER fibers (from Poznan do Hrebenne) and on UARNET fibers (Hrebenne-Lviv). However the economic reality has shown that such infrastructure is still too expensive for UARNET to operate due to high cost of the Polish part of the link. At the same time URAN was higly interested in this connectivity and 1Gbit/s link has been established, with futher plans to upgrade to 10Gbit/s. But the cost of such operation for research link was 4 times higher than full 10Gbit/s commodity Internet connection in Kiev IX.

The availability of GEANT connectivity is a real problem for Ukraine, since it has several dimensions:

  • Political: participation in GEANT is politically important for Ukraine, especially for URAN
  • Research: some network users require GEANT connectivity for research experiments (even though the commercial operators can provide required capacity and quality of service) - their research partners in Europe (like CERN) are connected only to GEANT with high bandwidth links and they have only small capacity links to commercial Internet. Currently both URAN and UARNET, due to favourable economic conditions, direct most of outgoing research traffic to cheap comodity IP uplinks in Kyiv and limit their use of GEANT to absolute minimum
  • Financial: in the current model, where GEANT procures own links to given country and the country participates in its costs, the cost of participation is higher than the full costs of higher capacity connections procured by NREN to one of existing GEANT nodes. Ukrainian networks cannot hope for government subsidies to GEANT connectivity, therefore must evaluate it very carefully.

The ideal solution in Ukrainian conditions would be to use one of existing UARNET lambdas to Frankfurt/M and organize direct peering with GEANT for exchange of IP traffic.

Relations URAN-UARNET

The relations between URAN and UARNET are complex. On one hand side, they exist on the market just like any other commercial operators, who may lease links, sell capacity to each other. As mentioned above, UARNET is related to Academy of Sciences while URAN Association to Ministry of Education (noteworthy that original URAN network was related to both NAS and ME). URAN is smaller in size and user base, and is using UARNET links for some of the services (like the link to Poland) and also is appointed as the representation NREN for Ukraine. Neither of the NRENs have control over each other, yet they connect in fact some subsets of customers from the same market – both have a mix of universities and research institutes connected, with UARNET connects also a significant number of primary/secondary schools.

Basic facts

Name URAN Association UARNET
Affilliation Ministry of Education Academy of Sciences
Status Association State enterprise
Budget Fees from users, sometimes government grants Fees from users only
Customers Approximately 120 education and research institutes and commercial research organisations, no other commercial customers Over 400 research and education (universities and institutes NAS, commercial research organizations, schools), unknown number of commercial customers.

Disclaimer: The information contained in the article reflects the research done by the author upon the information freely available in the Internet and acquired from URAN and UARNET. All the opinions and evaluations are subjective of the author. The article does not represent the official statements of URAN or UARNET

Research on Ukrainian NRENs has been prepared by Michal Przybylski

Physicist who traveled the world to build Internet: Jacek Gajewski

Jacek in Caucassus

During my many years of working as experimental high energy physicist in huge international teams of researchers, moving like nomad worldwide from one accelerator centre to another, I became familiar with the advantages of research networking, which at that time was just the tool of my everyday’s work. Being in CERN, I witnessed pioneering work of Tim Berners-Lee on WWW. When I came back in 80’s, I found out that Poland was banned from international networks by COCOM restrictions. In order to change it, I helped to draft a petition to President Bush (Senior) and finally Poland has been allowed to join EARN.

How did I get to CEENet? Once, in a short conversation on a corridor of Institute of Experimental Physics of Warsaw University I convinced prof. Hofmokl to “go to EARN meeting” – which turned out to be the beginning of Prof. Hofmokl’s long career in academic networking, that started with creation of Polish NREN (NASK). Few years later Prof. Hofmokl, then director of NASK and first Chairman of CEENet, has planned his revenge carefully. In another short conversation (to use my ‘method’ he has purposely chosen the same corridor) he asked me to come to CEENet meeting to “help him to take notes” and..... I spent my next 16 years with CEENet (with a known aversion to take notes and write reports, but rather make ‘things happen’…) It was during this meeting when I first met Prof. Oliver Popov, later my best friend, with whom I closely collaborated over my whole work in CEENet.

Starting from 1994 I had many contacts with ISOC, I have been sent to several ISOC Workshops for Developing Countries. In particular, we (I and Prof. Popov) met there Vint Cerf and George Sadowsky. Inspired by their work and intensively trained by George (who has used all our free time in Hawaii, for a series of additional lectures) we have started a series of technical, managerial and policy workshops, which trained the key persons in academic networking in Central and Eastern Europe and in Central Asia. With Oliver, we were like ‘salt and pepper’, an inseparable, highly devoted team, always responsive to the actual needs of networking community, building groups of trainers and ICT managers all over of the world and looking for further challenges with NRENs.

For several years I closely cooperated with the NATO Science Programme, being a co-director of several Network Infrastructure Projects. Together with NASK, I have managed to develop a number of CERTs and security related services for NRENs in the region. Furthermore cooperating with Cisco and a group of alumni of our workshops, we helped NRENs to enlarge their training abilitities based on Cisco Academy courses. It was quite interesting project management experience that became very useful when I got involved in in several EC funded projects related to regional academic networks and applications of e-learning. For many years I served as a member of Executive Committee of NATO Silk Project and as NATO ICT Consultant for Caucasus, Project and Team Leader in Kosovo, and even a (Honorary) Doctor at a university in Nakhchivan…

This work had some non-professional benefits. As I travelled frequently, I was happy to use this opportunity to exercise my passion: mountain hiking and skiing in remote parts of our world. It was typical for me to disappear right after a workshop and show up on some mountain peak in the most wild and unexplored parts of Caucasus, Tien-Shan, Pamir or Alps... Always trying to get to my beloved environment: snow, glaciers, and native people with whom I usually find common language. You would laugh looking at my local language trials (inventing generalized Slavic language, trying to simplify 14 cases of Estonian, speaking to Juhuri mountain tribe), learning local dances and songs (be careful if you are invited to a deadly Lezginka dance…) and wearing national costumes (it has a deeper meaning if you are presented a Kyrgyz hat or Talysh chukha). But you would definitely be jealous of the local food (and I learned to cook it too!).

Going now to ISOC, with its worldwide activities, I am hoping for even more remote areas to realize my dreams and passions (just returned from Kenya, seen snow-covered Kilimanjaro, so you can guess where to look for me next year…), trying to combine them with ISOC’s vision and finding enthusiastic people with whom those dreams will hopefully become true.

Memories noted and edited by Michal Przybylski

CEENGINE Newsletter is based on Fluid 960 Grid System, created by Stephen Bau, based on the 960 Grid System by Nathan Smith. Released under the GPL / MIT Licenses.