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Abilene Premium Service Test Program Launched
released April 11, 2000

Greg Wood


ARMONK, NY To support the QBone, an interdomain quality of service (QoS) testbed initiative sponsored by Internet2, Internet2 announced at the recent Spring 2000 Internet2 Member Meeting the launch of the Abilene Premium Service (APS) test program. Participation in this program is open to Abilene connectors interested in wide-area QBone testing to supplement local QBone deployment and testing efforts. APS is designed for full interoperability with the QBone Premium Service (QPS) and will be deployed in phases, beginning with an initial phase dubbed "Sweetwater".

"We envision that the Abilene Premium Service test program will play an important role in providing backbone transit for QBone traffic, and that it will add tremendous value and collaboration opportunities to the QBone deployment and testing efforts of Abilene connected institutions," said Ben Teitelbaum, Senior Engineer, Internet2.

The QBone Premium Service, and hence the Abilene Premium Service as well, aims to provide a low-loss, low-jitter service to advanced applications. Typically, these are real-time applications that support either human-to-human collaborations or human-to-machine remote control, and demand a level of interactivity that imposes stringent worst-case delay, jitter, and loss requirements on the underlying network service.

"The Abilene Premium Service test program will be a valuable contribution to our understanding of how new forms of IP QoS can enhance the capabilities of advanced interactive video applications," said Joel Mambretti, Director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR).

The Abilene Premium Service is built on the Expedited Forwarding (EF) per-hop behavior defined by the IETF Differentiated Services working group. The basic packet conditioning and forwarding service is complemented by a measurement infrastructure which will provide detailed QoS performance data to support end-to-end debugging and analysis of QoS-enabled paths. OARnet's Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC) will host the Abilene QoS measurement server, integrating a diverse set of passive and active performance observations under a common umbrella and supporting the public dissemination of these data.

During the initial "Sweetwater" phase of the APS test program, EF-marked traffic injected by a participating connector will be policed according to an agreed-upon service profile. APS profiles will be parameterized by an agreed-upon peak rate and maximum burst size.

During Sweetwater, no preferential forwarding treatment will be given to APS traffic as it transits Abilene. However, because Abilene is still fairly lightly loaded, this is not expected to be a significant problem for those involved in testing QoS-sensitive applications. The subsequent Midland phase of APS testing will include partial EF forwarding through the Abilene core and policing and/or monitoring at all connector interfaces to protect EF capacity. Midland is expected to begin within one to three months.

Abilene connectors interested in participating in the APS test program should read the detailed "Abilene Premium Service Test Program" document, and should submit a request for participation to the Abilene network operations center (NOC) per the procedures described there. Our intention is to work to support any Abilene connector who is interested in participating in the APS test program and who is making a good faith effort to participate in the Internet2 QBone initiative. Participation of individual connectors may be delayed by the technical limitations of certain edge cards, limitations of connector access router functionality, or other technical or operational constraints on the part of either Abilene or its connectors.

The Abilene backbone network provides high-performance backbone connectivity to Internet2 universities and other institutions. Abilene is a packet-over SONET (POS) network, providing coast-to-coast OC-48 (2.4 Gbps) IP transit, with connectors attaching to one of ten POPs with either POS or IP-over-ATM access circuits running at OC-3 (155 Mbps), OC-12 (622 Mbps), or OC-48 (2.4 Gbps) speeds. The Abilene project is a partnership of Internet2, Qwest, Cisco Systems, and Nortel Networks, with the Abilene NOC supplied under contract by Indiana University. The Abilene QoS engineering team includes engineers from all Abilene partners and from the two Internet2 Technology Evaluation Centers (ITECs), hosted by the North Carolina Networking Initiative (NCNI) and Ohio State University.

The Internet2 QBone initiative was launched by the Internet2 QoS Working Group in November 1998 to develop and deploy an interdomain testbed for new IP network services. QBone participants are exploring the engineering and science of IP differentiated services in the context of an interdomain testbed that makes these services incrementally available to the developers and end-users of advanced applications. The initial focus and first service specified by the QBone architecture is a low-loss, low-jitter service based on the Expedited Forwarding (EF) per-hop behavior, defined by the IETF Differentiated Services working group. For more information about the QBone, see:

Internet2 is developing and deploying advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of tomorrow's Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnership of academia, industry and government that helped foster today's Internet in its infancy. For more information about Internet2, see:

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