But, even beyond that, work must now turn to developing the ancillary structures needed to allow broad access to it even from devices as common as a PalmPilot.
Such was the status report -- and the urging -- of 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq:COMS) CEO Eric Benhamou, who delivered the Sunday afternoon keynote to a gathering of representatives from the project's dozen or so corporate partners and its more than 130 member universities. "The WAN infrastructure needs to begin encompassing LANs in order to wire floors, buildings, or campuses together," Benhamou said.
Internet2 is an alternate, private network for universities to conduct research and create applications. Many of these universities helped create the Internet, but are finding it too congested to perform their research.
When it goes live -- an event scheduled for this coming January -- Internet2 will be 100 or more times faster than the current Internet. Internet2 members are therefore eager to develop, deploy and debug their advanced, high-bandwidth applications.
Before Internet2 can go live, however, the group still needs to build the underlying collection of network services to support these cutting-edge applications. This three-day meeting of Internet2 members will focus on a "middleware initiative" that includes security, directory services, digital audio-video transmission, distributed storage and quality of service.
Early test applications
Internet2 members are already beginning to test early versions of advanced networking applications that would allow surgeons halfway around the world to collaborate on a laproscopic surgery in real-time, as though they were in the same operating room with their colleagues.
In a related development, it was disclosed that IBM would be announcing on Monday three research grants totaling $2.1 million.
The grants are being awarded to the University of Tennessee, to develop high performance distributed storage ad services infrastructure for Internet2 applications; Florida International University, for a high speed campus infrastructure in support of advanced research applications; and Case Western Reserve University for delivering multimedia applications over Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Internet Protocol networks.
The meeting will also mark the first demonstration of the Abilene network, the infrastructure of Internet2. Abilene is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID).
Internet2, created with $500 million from universities and such industry giants as Cisco, MCI, and Qwest Communications, was unveiled by Vice President Al Gore in April.
While it's not synonymous with the Clinton Administration's Next Generation Internet program, it's closely related, since it indirectly receives funding through government grants to universities.