Global Network Architecture

The Global Network Architecture group from the Global R&E Network CEO Forum is drafting a blueprint for the intercontinental R&E network interconnects, based on the latest technologies and promising developments, with a ten-year horizon. This blueprint will enable participating R&E networks to align their spending for intercontinental bandwidth.

By joining forces the R&E networks can be bigger players in relevant markets -e.g. the intercontinental transmission market- than today where spending is less directed. Hence, the R&E networks can be much more ambitious and create a more far reaching result, yielding a sustainable high-performance global interconnect for Research & Education. An important piece of the vision is that the R&E Networks that now subscribe to the GNA strategy agree to bring their procurements in line with the overall architecture, as much as possible. Firstly, this makes it possible to bring pieces of the infrastructure together early on. Secondly, it allows the R&E networks and their funders collectively to understand and contribute to a bigger picture.

The GNA embraces open standards, such as those ratified by the IETF, the OGF, the IEEE, and other globally recognized standards bodies, as much as possible. Also, the GNA adheres to the resource management policies for IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, autonomous system numbers, domain names, etc., and collaborates with the authorities of these resources if and when needed.

The discussions inside the GNA group have led to a global network architecture model that consists of a powerful intercontinental transmission substrate, consisting of:

  • Global Open Exchange Points (“GXPs”),

  • High-bandwidth transmission pipes (running between GXPs). 

The GXPs in this architecture model have two major functions:

  1. Attachment points for the high-bandwidth circuits of the substrate,

  2. Connection points for the regional and national R&E networks that are part of and make use of the GNA infrastructure

​The model furthermore details the GNA substrate as a bearer for overlays that deliveres the network services on top of the GNA. The model looks as follows:

Further information on GNA can be found at the GNA community website.

For more information on the GNA work, please contact the co-chairs of the GNA Technical Group: Jim Williams (Internet2) and Erik-Jan Bos (NORDUnet).