The San Diego Super Computer Center
Starting in 1998 the staff of TDC and many of our resource personnel put together the W4 satellite network hub in San Diego to link the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Internet 2, The University of California San Diego, San Diego State University and San Diego Global Knowledge University to some 300 universities in Latin America. From this effort we learned a great deal about the value to researchers of access to quality content delivery. An we had a chance to evaluate techniques for satellite and fiber delivery of intellectual content which were both high impact and low cost.
The Americas.Net connectivity at SDSC
The AmericasNet was a program connecting universities and research institutions throughout the Americas to the US academic and research networks. The strategy has five components:
- Link the major universities of the Americas through high speed, high quality satellite communications.
- Use UCSD supercomputer center’s backbone connectivity to gain high-speed access to the academic and research world, (Internet II: Abeline & vBNS, NASANet, ESNet, DREN, CALREN, etc.)
- Link intra-Americas institutions using an advanced, satellite network protocol.
- Use these key universities as hubs to link k-12, business, and government institutions.
- Build increasing body of tri-lingual content through pan-regional peering and provide fully cached access.
Intellectual Content Distribution Network
By networking together major intellectual institutions throughout the Americas with those in the US, we can begin to leverage the tremendous intellectual content held by these institutions. Since the Middle Ages universities have been both the holders as well as the disseminators of knowledge. Knowledge, skills, and occasionally wisdom were painstakingly transferred from professor to student.
Although no one had predicted this, the Internet seemed to have modified this model. In the past, one or a few individuals held authority. Access to their expertise required access to them as individuals. What changed this is the Internet, and more particularly the World Wide Web. Within months of the webs arrival, sites (at universities) spontaneously appeared. Web content varied widely, but over time some university sites became exceptionally good information sources. For example, UC Berkeley’s paleontology site:
grew to present an extensive and fairly complete level of subject information. Faculty at universities throughout the world are actively maintaining their knowledge bases online.
Our strategy has been to ecourage AmericasNet universities to collaborate with faculty in North America, (and Europe.) to develop a bi-lingual, (and eventually adding Portuguese for tri-lingual) sites that form an Intellectual Content Distribution Network (ICDN). W4’s contribution, in addition to providing the telecommunications and intellectual linkage, is to cache the complete ICDN at each university node throughout the AmericasNet. As this network evolves, the ICDN grows with each association. With our alliances with universities, we intend to be pro-active in identifying and co-opting sites for inclusion into this growing ICDN.
The user always drives success. For any reference library, (and the ICDN can be though of as a living, on-line reference library), speed of access is a necessary requirement for effectiveness. As a cached repository, the AmericasNet provides this at last mile speed, and our last mile speed is normally Ethernet speeds, (with many sites using wireless technology.) The ICDN becomes an almost instantaneous reference library where the searching experience is more blasting than surfing!
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