India's NKN Breaks Boundaries

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj, Journalist | 11/22/2012 | 12 comments

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj
India is building a high-speed multi-gigabit pan-India network to link all major Indian universities, libraries, laboratories, hospitals, and agricultural institutions.

The $1.3 billion National Knowledge Network (NKN) among 1,500 institutions seeks to encourage collaboration and research on a global-scale. At present, 908 nodes have been connected. Researchers, academicians, and students from diverse backgrounds and geographies will ultimately leverage the network to their advantage. While NKN will eventually reach the US, connecting to research networks like Internet2, Canarie, Gloriad, and Nysernet, links to regional networks will be established first.

Global real-time research is already part of the network through the third generation Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN-3), a dedicated, high-speed regional research and education network in Asia and Europe. Tein-3 fosters robust research and education IP connectivity, linking Asia-Pacific researchers to each other and their counterparts in Europe. Direct, fast links to Europe's multi-gigabit Geant network make this possible. Seventeen Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim nations are connected on the Tein-3 network. Tein-3 has been used for:

  • Timely transmission of global meteorological data, which in turn enables faster, more accurate weather forecasting.
  • Remote lectures and interactive video-conferences for students across the region.
  • Specific analysis of data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in Geneva, is being carried out by scientists at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Two of the seven experiments, ALICE and CMS, related to heavy ion and particle physics are supported on NKN. The CMS experiment recently led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson on God particle by CERN.
  • The Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, has conducted protein crystallography studies accessing the Synchrotron at Grenoble, France. This has enabled studies on structure-function relationships in biological macromolecules and design of new drugs.

On the domestic front, the NKN envisages applications in the areas of agriculture, education, health, e-governance, and high performance grid computing. Several model application projects have been launched in these areas, including virtual classrooms, open-source drug discovery, Collab-CAD application for reactor component design, and weather modeling. Notable among these are:

  • The Indian Brain Imaging Network Grid or I-Brain created by scientists at the National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, to study brain scans and enable early detection of Alzheimer's disease.
  • A Meta University is taking shape on the strength of the NKN. Eligible students will be able to pursue multiple courses through this concept –- an extension of virtual classrooms -– which is collaborative and based on open-source learning materials.

India's national grid, Global Access to Resources Using Distributed Architecture (GARUDA), has been migrated onto the NKN. Garuda is a service-oriented architecture-based aggregation of computational nodes, mass storage and scientific instruments, spanning 17 cities and 45 institutions. Research has started in semantic grid services, integrated development environment, storage resource managers, network simulation, and grid file systems. Efforts are on to integrate technology components of Garuda with the EGEE under an EU-India Grid collaboration to allow users to access the resources and services across both the grids in a secure and seamless manner. At present, Garuda resources are also being accessed to screen drug targets for metabolic disorders from traditional plants and for seasonal prediction of Indian monsoons, aerospace engineering, and disaster management.

The NKN backbone starts from 2.5Gbps and progressively moves to 10Gbps connectivity between seven supercore (fully meshed) locations around India. The network is further spread out through 26 core locations with multiple 2.5/10Gbps partially meshed connections among supercore locations. The distribution layer connects the entire country to the core of the network using multiple links at speeds of 2.5/10Gbps. End users are connected at speeds of up to 1Gbps. The network architecture and governance structure allows users options to connect to the distribution layer as well.

The potential of the NKN is not lost on the private sector, which has been clamoring for access to the high bandwidth connectivity to reach out to rural areas and offer invaluable services in the areas of health and telemedicine.

Are you as a CIO in India interested in leveraging NKN? Do you think it should be opened up to the private sector? Leave your comments below.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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Pedro Gonzales   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/27/2012 10:48:54 AM
having a infrastructure is just the begining
I think such activities are great in India and continue in the future.  But, I hope more of such infrastruture is used to support social services and education. As many of the commentators indicated, that the gap between the rich and poor need to be decrease due to the large number of poor people. I think technology can be used to that extend, provide technical training, telemedicine and many more services.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/26/2012 9:04:54 AM
Re: On another note about the security
@rdv, you are very right...hackers around the world are always looking for new challenges! Well, so far so good.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/26/2012 9:01:17 AM
Re: Inspiring
@KeithGrindsted,

Your observations carry a sense of poignancy. The paradoxical situation in India does inspire self-introspection in humanity...I am of the personal opinion that not enough is being said and written about the disadvantaged sections of society. IT success stories make more pleasant reading, I guess. When people outside the country attempt to take a closer look at the harsh realities, they slip into stereo-typing ---snake-charmers, cattle on roads and so on, putting the "intellectuals" on the defensive. The need of the hour is to break it all down to tiny issues of development and make honest, if ruthless comparisons with other nations. The Economist did this recently in a refreshing manner:

http://www.economist.com/content/indian-summary

As for helping the needy, the answer is in empowerment, education and exposure.
rdv   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/26/2012 4:17:50 AM
On another note about the security
Sudha, thanks for the post and letting us know about the NKN initiative.

GARUDA GRID getting migrated into NKN will help utilize the Gigabit speeds for the scientific and engineering computations... 

however the security threat have to be combated properly otherwise a single breach can collapse the entire network and that too the scientific data.
DBK   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/25/2012 1:57:57 PM
Re: Inspiring
@ the string of posts on this topic it is interesting how the world can still have a cast society where the rich get richer and the poor are artificially held to a certain level.  However in a different but similar way the same thing is happening domestically. The digital divide that is seperating the haves and the have nots.  Accelerating growth and accelerating the divide between the employee able and unemployable.  The educated and the under educated.  It is all very scary and if history has taught us anything this situation can lead to revolts.  And at a certain level we are seeing those revolts as the so called "Occupy" your city name here phenomenon.  the other question is who is funding those "Occupy movements, that answer may be very revealing.
KeithGrinsted   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/25/2012 3:13:56 AM
Re: Inspiring
Rich, good point!!

But it does seem to be greater extremes in India.

But your example of USA could be applied to pretty much any country struggling with the recession and austerity measures.

We are not perfect in UK.  One of the fastest growing enterprises in the charity sector are foodbanks!  These are springing up all  around the country - over 200 so far.  They provide food parcels to needy families that suddenly find themselves on hard times.

 
KeithGrinsted   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/25/2012 3:09:10 AM
Re: Inspiring
I guess the access bit is critical.  It will hopefully open up opportunity to some of those less fortunate who do themselves have some of the answers.

If the cleverest are only interested in pushing the boundaries and proving how clever they are they'll never look back at the problems behind them.

But if the socially entrepreneurial individuals amongst the needy can gain access to a bigger world they may actually begin to make a difference.

I just wish I knew how the world at large could help them more?

 
Rich Krajewski   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/24/2012 4:50:34 PM
Re: Inspiring
"How can a nation [India] that has such poverty also have such technology."

Have you looked at the US lately? (I don't mean the pictures in the magazines.) It's in pretty sad shape.
Technocrat   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/24/2012 3:34:09 PM
Re: Inspiring
 " I just hope that the cleverest minds in Indiia can also solve the poverty."

Excellent point Keith,  While I share your sentiment, history has shown that the cleverest of minds can do little to affect poverty, but it is a start,  "with access" means opportunity so in that sense the issue of poverty may be affected to some positive degree.
KeithGrinsted   India's NKN Breaks Boundaries   11/24/2012 3:16:08 PM
Re: Inspiring
I think India is a staggering dichotomy!  How can a nation that has such poverty also have such technology.

I just hope that the cleverest minds in Indiia can also solve the poverty.

 
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