Last Thursday, NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate (CISE) officially unveiled their Global Environment for Networking Investigations (GENI) initiative, a program designed to “advance significantly the capabilities provided by networking and distributed systems.” As NSF points out in their fact sheet covering the program:
The GENI Research Program will build on many years of knowledge and experience, encouraging researchers and designers to: reexamine all networking assumptions; reinvent where needed; design for intended capabilities; deploy and validate architectures; build new services and applications; encourage users to participate in experimentation; and take a system-wide approach to the synthesis of new architectures.
The unveiling of the initiative did not go unnoticed in the press. Wired ran with the story on Friday, quoting CRA board member Jen Rexford and UCLA’s Len Kleinrock. Federal Computer Week also had coverage Friday. And today, the New York Times’ John Markoff takes a look.
The program has the goal of supporting both a research program and a new “global experimental test facility” — all for an estimated $300 million. That’s a very ambitious budget number in the current environment. But making progress on the challenges posed — how do you design new networking and distributed system architectures that build in security, protect privacy, are robust and easy to use? — could make that $300 million seem like one of the better investments taxpayers have made. As Bob Kahn pointed out in his interview with C-Span last week, the original investment in the research behind what would become the Internet turned out to be a pretty good deal….
In any case, we’ll follow the progress with the initiative as it moves forward. Any “new start” of this magnitude will require substantial effort and support from the community to demonstrate to policymakers the need addressed and opportunity presented by the new program. And we’ll be right there.