Canadians follow lightpath to better optical networks

Communications Research Centre Canada and the University of Ottawa have teamed up to create lightpath software, giving users access to optical networks without the help of a service provider.

The technology is being touted as a way

to accelerate research in scientific fields requiring a lot of bandwidth, such as medicine, genomics, weather monitoring and high-energy physics.

Michel Savoie, research manager for broadband and optical networks at the Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) in Ottawa, said the software will create true, customer-empowered networks.

“”More and more, nowadays, we’re seeing organizations and institutes who are acquiring dark fibre or managed wavelengths. This tool here allows these people to set up networks in a condominium fashion, where you can share resources and have more than one party manage these resources.””

Other science projects using lightpaths include one at Carleton University, which is using a CA*net 4 lightpath to bypass Internet bottlenecks for high-speed data transfer between its Ottawa campus and CERN, the international particle physics lab in Geneva. Another is WestGrid, a western Canadian provider of high-performance computing, performance and collaboration tools using CA*net 4 and lightpaths to connect $44 million in computing instrumentation.

Jonathan Schaeffer, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, one of the schools involved in WestGrid, said his network has been using lightpath technology to improve productivity since last year.

Schaeffer said many huge files are backed up every day over a network from Edmonton to Vancouver. “”Going out over a standard network, it would take many, many, many hours for this to be done. But using a dedicated lightpath, it can be done very, very quickly.””

CRC and and the University of Ottawa on Friday will use CANARIE’s high-performance research and education network, CA*net 4, to demonstrate user-controlled lightpath software between the research centre lab in Ottawa and the Advanced Broadband Communications Centre lab of the Technological University of Catalonia in Barcelona. Delegates from the European Union will also attend.

Created in less than a year, the technology shown tomorrow will be the first time two independent user-controlled LightPath Provisioning (UCLP) systems link an end-to-end connection across multiple optical network infrastructures, the project’s developers said.

Rather than sell the software to universities or involve the private sector, it can be downloaded for free at, said Gregor Von Bochmann of the University of Ottawa, the team leader on the project and a professor in the school of information technology and engineering.

“”This would be used by companies that want to provide switches that can be used in this context, and they would then provide an interface so that our software can talk to it.

“”This is a very new field,”” he added. “”So before this is really commercial, I think there must be some kind of standards that everyone agrees (to). We are always working on improved versions and so on, and so we may sell improved versions. Or if somebody is interested in adapting the software to their particular environment, we may collaborate with them to do that. And then this new version would be proprietary.””

CRC and the University of Ottawa hope the EU delegation’s attendance at their demonstration will, among other things, emphasize the international nature of research. Savoie said CRC last December signed a memorandum of understanding with the Technological University of Catalonia to build ties for further collaboration in this area.

The lightpath project, funded by CANARIE, CRC, University of Ottawa, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and UPC, is valued at just under $600,000.


Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+