Network requirements for scientific research: Internet task force on scientific computing
RFC 1017

Document Type RFC - Unknown (August 1987; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                    Barry M. Leiner
Request for Comments: 1017                                         RIACS
                                                             August 1987

              Network Requirements for Scientific Research

              Internet Task Force on Scientific Computing


   This RFC identifies the requirements on communication networks for
   supporting scientific research.  It proposes some specific areas for
   near term work, as well as some long term goals.  This is an "idea"
   paper and discussion is strongly encouraged.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.


   Computer networks are critical to scientific research.  They are
   currently being used by portions of the scientific community to
   support access to remote resources (such as supercomputers and data
   at collaborator's sites) and collaborative work through such
   facilities as electronic mail and shared databases.  There is
   considerable movement in the direction of providing these
   capabilities to the broad scientific community in a unified manner,
   as evidence by this workshop. In the future, these capabilities will
   even be required in space, as the Space Station becomes a reality as
   a scientific research resource.

   The purpose of this paper is to identify the range of requirements
   for networks that are to support scientific research.  These
   requirements include the basic connectivity provided by the links and
   switches of the network through the basic network functions to the
   user services that need to be provided to allow effective use of the
   interconnected network.  The paper has four sections.  The first
   section discusses the functions a user requires of a network.  The
   second section discusses the requirements for the underlying link and
   node infrastructure while the third proposes a set of specifications
   to achieve the functions on an end-to-end basis.  The fourth section
   discusses a number of network-oriented user services that are needed
   in addition to the network itself.  In each section, the discussion
   is broken into two categories.  The first addresses near term
   requirements: those capabilities and functions that are needed today
   and for which technology is available to perform the function.  The
   second category concerns long term goals: those capabilities for
   which additional research is needed.

   This RFC was produced by the IAB Task force a Scientific Computing,

Leiner                                                          [Page 1]
RFC 1017          Requirements for Scientific Research       August 1987

   which is chartered to investigate advanced networking requirements
   that result from scientific applications.  Work reported herein was
   supported in part by Cooperative Agreement NCC 2-387 from the
   National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to the
   Universities Space Research Association (USRA).


   This section addresses the functions and capabilities that networks
   and particularly internetworks should be expected to support in the
   near term future.

Near Term Requirements

   There are many functions that are currently available to subsets of
   the user community.  These functions should be made available to the
   broad scientific community.

User/Resource Connectivity

   Undoubtedly the first order of business in networking is to provide
   interconnectivity of users and the resources they need.  The goal in
   the near term for internetworking should be to extend the
   connectivity as widely as possible, i.e. to provide ubiquitous
   connectivity among users and between users and resources.  Note that
   the existence of a network path between sites does not necessarily
   imply interoperability between communities and or resources using
   non-compatible protocol suites.  However, a minimal set of functions
   should be provided across the entire user community, independent of
   the protocol suite being used.  These typically include electronic
   mail at a minimum, file transfer and remote login capabilities must
   also be provided.

Home Usage

   One condition that could enhance current scientific computing would
   be to extend to the home the same level of network support that the
   scientist has available in his office environment.  As network access
   becomes increasingly widespread, the extension to the home will allow
   the user to continue his computing at home without dramatic changes
   in his work habits, based on limited access.


   The scientific user should not have to worry about the costs of data
   communications any more than he worries about voice communications
   (his office telephone), so that data communications becomes an
   integral and low-cost part of our national infrastructure.  This

Leiner                                                          [Page 2]
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