Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network
RFC - Informational
(July 1990; No errata)
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RFC 1167 (Informational)
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Network Working Group V. Cerf
Request for Comments: 1167 CNRI
THOUGHTS ON THE NATIONAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION NETWORK
Status of this Memo
The memo provides a brief outline of a National Research and
Education Network (NREN). This memo provides information for the
Internet community. It does not specify any standard. It is not a
statement of IAB policy or recommendations.
Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
This contribution seeks to outline and call attention to some of the
major factors which will influence the form and structure of a
National Research and Education Network (NREN). It is implicitly
assumed that the system will emerge from the existing Internet.
The author gratefully acknowledges support from the National Science
Foundation, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the
Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration through cooperative agreement NCR-8820945. The author
also acknowledges helpful comments from colleagues Ira Richer, Barry
Leiner, Hans-Werner Braun and Robert Kahn. The opinions expressed in
this paper are the personal opinions of the author and do not
represent positions of the U.S. Government, the Corporation for
National Research Initiatives or of the Internet Activities Board.
In fact, the author isn't sure he agrees with everything in the
A WORD ON TERMINOLOGY
The expression "national research and education network" is taken to
mean "the U.S. National Research and Education Network" in the
material which follows. It is implicitly assumed that similar
initiatives may arise in other countries and that a kind of Global
Research and Education Network may arise out of the existing
international Internet system. However, the primary focus of this
paper is on developments in the U.S.
Cerf [Page 1]
RFC 1167 NREN July 1990
1. The NREN in the U.S. will evolve from the existing Internet base.
By implication, the U.S. NREN will have to fit into an international
environment consisting of a good many networks sponsored or owned and
operated by non-U.S. organizations around the world.
2. There will continue to be special-purpose and mission-oriented
networks sponsored by the U.S. Government which will need to link
with, if not directly support, the NREN.
3. The basic technical networking architecture of the system will
include local area networks, metropolitan, regional and wide-area
networks. Some nets will be organized to support transit traffic and
others will be strictly parasitic.
4. Looking towards the end of the decade, some of the networks may be
mobile (digital, cellular). A variety of technologies may be used,
including, but not limited to, high speed Fiber Data Distribution
Interface (FDDI) nets, Distributed-Queue Dual Bus (DQDB) nets,
Broadband Integrated Services Digital Networks (B-ISDN) utilizing
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switching fabrics as well as
conventional Token Ring, Ethernet and other IEEE 802.X technology.
Narrowband ISDN and X.25 packet switching technology network services
are also likely play a role along with Switched Multi-megabit Data
Service (SMDS) provided by telecommunications carriers. It also
would be fair to ask what role FTS-2000 might play in the system, at
least in support of government access to the NREN, and possibly in
support of national agency network facilities.
5. The protocol architecture of the system will continue to exhibit a
layered structure although the layering may vary from the present-day
Internet and planned Open Systems Interconnection structures in some
6. The system will include servers of varying kinds required to
support the general operation of the system (for example, network
management facilities, name servers of various types, email, database
and other kinds of information servers, multicast routers,
cryptographic certificate servers) and collaboration support tools
including video/teleconferencing systems and other "groupware"
facilities. Accounting and access control mechanisms will be
7. The system will support multiple protocols on an end to end basis.
At the least, full TCP/IP and OSI protocol stacks will be supported.
Dealing with Connectionless and Connection-Oriented Network Services
in the OSI area is an open issue (transport service bridges and
Cerf [Page 2]
RFC 1167 NREN July 1990
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