The partnership of academia, industry, and government that built the NSFNET backbone service also pioneered a model of technology transfer. From 217 networks connected in July of 1988 to more than 50,000 in April of 1995 when the NSFNET backbone service was retired, the NSFNET’s exponential growth stimulated the expansion of the worldwide Internet and provided a dynamic environment for the development of new communications technologies.
As we continue to address the challenge of national and global information infrastructure—the next generation of communications infrastructure—we are fortunate to be guided by the example set by the NSFNET in its successful partnership for high-speed networking.
The IPMA tools were easily configurable, so that users could quickly generate exactly the kinds of network performance data they need. The IPMA project worked closely with the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) and the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR) to create a shared measurement infrastructure for the U.S. Internet. Hewlett-Packard and Intel Corporation also funded portions of the project.
One of the major outcomes of the project was a study of the backbone routing information at the major U.S. public Internet exchange points. IPMA staff discovered several unexpected trends in routing instability, and examined a number of anomalies and pathologies observed in the exchange of inter-domain routing information. The researchers showed that the volume of routing updates was several orders of magnitude more than expected, and the majority of this routing information was shown to be erroneous. Furthermore, the analysis revealed several unexpected trends and ill-behaved systematic properties in Internet routing.
In February 2011, management of NANOG was transitioned to NewNOG, Inc., a non-profit organization organized by members of the NANOG community.
The new infrastructure was composed of multiple backbones serving hundreds of Internet Service Providers across the U.S. The routing environment was complex and changed rapidly, requiring innovative technologies that can be quickly modified to adapt to new conditions. Merit and ISI were charged by the National Science Foundation with the task of facilitating and enhancing routing information exchange worldwide. The Routing Arbiter’s major products — the Route Servers and the Routing Arbiter Database — were designed for the new environment and served a steadily increasing number of providers and network operators.
• In January 1997, following NSF’s recommendation that Route Server services be shifted to the commercial marketplace, Merit launched the new Route Server Next Generation (RSNG) project, which made it possible for exchange point operators to purchase Route Server services from Merit in support of customer peering. NSF suggested the move to commercialization in August 1996 after its 24-month review of the RA project, noting the importance of the Routing Arbiter in the smooth transition from the NSFNET to the competive Internet market.
Internet Performance Measurement and Analysis Project
• Following NSF’s recommendation that statistical research and tool development be pursued separately from the Routing Arbiter activity, a proposal was submitted to NSF for support for a new Internet Performance Measurement and Analysis project. In fall 1997, Merit received a $1.6 million award from the National Science Foundation in support of the project, a joint effort between Merit and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering.
North American Network Operators Group
• NANOG, the North American Network Operators Group, was supported by NSF during both the NSFNET project and the early years of the Routing Arbiter project. NANOG is now funded independently through attendee registration fees.
Route Server operations at the Network Access Points were supported by the National Science Foundation until January 1, 1997. NSF made the decision to commercialize Route Server and Network Access Point operations following the 24-month review of the Routing Arbiter and the four NAP projects in July 1996. NSF noted that all these projects had completed their basic missions ahead of schedule, and stated that the Routing Arbiter and the NAPs “have now proven that multiple network providers can work together in a competitive marketplace, and so can be scheduled for transition to commercial operations themselves.”