Background and History

The Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD) represents the outcome of a 10+ year international collaboration that began with a chance meeting via the Internet between two people – one from the US, one from Russia – and the January 1994 launch of a web-based collaboration, “Friends & Partners”, designed to encourage scientists, educators and others in the US and Russia to – using the Internet – learn more about and from each other. This hobby project provided an early glimpse into the power of harnessing the Internet for cross-cultural exchange and within two years, had several thousand subscribers, over a million visitors and various honors and distinctions– published in one book as one of the “20 must see” sites on the Internet. The collaboration between the two grew to a wide range of projects – and the realization that in order to support US-Russia cooperation via the Internet, they had to address local Internet infrastructure. With financial assistance from of a financial assistance from NATO, US State Department, Ford Foundation, Eurasia Foundation, RELARN, International Science Foundation, Sun Microsystems and others, they began to build improved local and regional Internets – in the US (East Tennessee) and in seven communities across Russia. Early success here pointed out the weakness in the international links – and thus the project known in its various phases as MIRnet, FASTnet, NaukaNet and later “Little GLORIAD” was born with the sponsorship of the US NSF and the Russian Ministry of Science. The desire to share, communicate, collaborate and learn from one another continues to grow from that early experience and is reflected in this proposal for the expansion of GLORIAD. The two people who had that chance meeting in early 1993 on the Internet are the two principal investigators of this project.

Gloriad Growth
The current-day project began in 1998 as the smallest (and probably riskiest) of the NSF HPIIS awards (about 1/3 funding of the larger awards) – at the University of Tennessee with a 6 Mbps ATM service that began operating during the spring of 1999. The program (and PI) moved to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in 2001. It reached its five-year goal of 155 Mbps at the beginning of the fifth year of activity (2003) and extended the project, with an STM-1 (155 Mbps) circuit, to the People’s Republic of China (peering with the S&E; network, CSTnet, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences) in the sixth (extension) year with no increase in funding. By almost any measure, the project has surpassed its initial goals and expectations. Current traffic trends indicate accelerated demand in traffic well into the future due to the dramatic domestic network improvements being made in Russia and China. These improvements further enhance the ability of US scientists and educators to work with their Russian (and now Chinese) counterparts.

Such international projects are not simple to manage. Soon after it began in 1998, a situation developed with a Russian institution intent on controlling the network’s Moscow operations that led to a difficult situation in which only a very few institutions inside Moscow (and even fewer outside) were allowed access (thus, depriving the US science community of access to scientists and educators). After two years of difficult effort and quiet diplomacy, the project returned to its home under the Kurchatov Institute umbrella (where the Russian Internet had begun years earlier and where the entire S&E; network was managed) – but with one difference; this time it had attracted the attention and support, and was now led by, the Kurchatov President, Dr. Evgeny Velikhov. As the figure at right shows, use of the network by science institutions across the whole of Russia exploded the very day the network was transferred back to the Kurchatov Institute (December 2001). An important “real-world” lesson was learned about network politics (they matter).

The project has grown in usefulness not only at US universities (to and from which 70% of its traffic flows), but to DOE National Laboratories, NASA, NOAA, USGS, NIH – and other federal agencies.

The GLORIAD program and its predecessor, NaukaNet, are given prominent and positive mention at senior US-Russia government meetings such as during this December 2002 meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Committee for Science and Technology in which the Science Advisor to the U.S. President signed, with his Russian counterpart, a statement commending the project.

Success with this US-Russia effort does not necessarily translate into automatic success with the more complicated relationships involved in what is now a three-nation effort. But the US-Russia working experience has taught the investigators many lessons about: (1) how to work in a politically challenging and rapidly changing international environment; (2) the importance of leading by service; (3) the value of patience in understanding partners’ unique concerns (often influenced by an environment quite different from our own); and (4) the vital importance of building strong human networks of trust to achieve technical networking goals.

Launch Ceremony, January 12, 2004

Scientists and networkers from the USA, Russia and China, meeting in Beijing, formally launched a new advanced network linking the three countries on January 12, 2004. A substantial step forward in science and education cooperation between the three countries, the “Little” Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (Little GLORIAD) represents a first step towards a much larger initiative the three countries are planning for a late-2004 start.

The follow-on GLORIAD network will provide a 10 Gbps “wavelength” network circling the northern hemisphere. Its hybrid circuit-switched and routed architecture will enable the new network to continue servicing broad S&E; community applications while dedicating special services to those users with particularly heavy or unique requirements – i.e., high energy physicists, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program, astronomers, atmospheric scientists and others. Little GLORIAD’s point of presence in the US is at the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported StarLight facility in Chicago where US high performance S&E; networks exchange traffic. From Chicago, the network reaches both east to Moscow and west to Beijing with OC3 (155 Mbps) circuits. Even before the larger GLORIAD network begins operation, two substantial improvements will be made to Little GLORIAD in mid- 2004: the network will add a European exchange point in Amsterdam at the Netherlight facility in March 2004; and the network will provide a new OC3 circuit from Khabarovsk to Beijing (across the Russia-China border), completing an OC3 ring around the northern hemisphere by summer 2004. Primary network centers for both Little GLORIAD and its larger follow-on will include Chicago, Amsterdam, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Beijing and Hong Kong.
(click above to view animation)Little GLORIAD continues current levels of service between the U.S. and Russia, which have jointly built and managed the US-Russia NaukaNet network (upon which GLORIAD is built) for five years. But it greatly increases the capacity between US and Russian scientists and their colleagues throughout the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The network already facilitates many new applications – including communication through high quality video-conferencing, high volume data transfer, shared access to unique science instruments and facilities, etc. For example, Little GLORIAD already facilitates data transfers measured in gigabytes; the larger GLORIAD network will handle transfers measured in terabytes. The global ring topology of the network will provide both increased reliability and flexibility for new applications. For example, it will be possible to temporarily commit the entire US-China circuit to a special application while routing China traffic across the US-Russia circuit.

The long list of science collaborations supported by the new GLORIAD program includes joint responses to natural and man-made disasters, safeguards of nuclear materials, better understanding of the human genome, joint exploration of space, distributed monitoring of seismic events, astronomical observation, global cooperation on the International Thermonuclear Fusion Reactor (ITER), fusion energy sciences, high energy physics collaborations and atmospheric and other environmental studies and simulations. The network will also enable broad education collaborations between universities and local schools – including shared seminars, distance learning programs, multi-national science fairs, etc.

The program is rooted in a 10-year old US-Russia community networking program called “Friends and Partners” and directly builds on an existing five year advanced networking program funded by the US and Russian governments called “NaukaNet” (“Science Net” in the Russian language) (see “Little GLORIAD” is funded from the US NSF as the final year of the three year, $2.8 million NaukaNet grant to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for US-Russia high performance networking. When the Russia-China circuit is complete in summer 2004, the network will provide a new connection for the US science community into science facilities in the Far East of Russia via the Chinese Academy of Sciences network – i.e., US and Russian scholars connected via China’s network – an historic step in itself in cooperation between the three countries.

Russian leadership of the program is provided by the Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute” and the Russian Academy of Science ( and Financial support is provided by a consortium of Russian Ministries and science organizations coordinated by the Russian Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology. Chinese leadership and financial support is provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and through the Computer Network Information Center, which coordinates China-wide networking for the CAS.

An important partner in the design and operation of GLORIAD is Tyco Global Neworks (TGN). Tyco is providing protected circuits across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; with its global network footprint and extensive network research facilities, it is both an important service provider and a strong research partner.

GLORIAD represents only one of many programs and activities proposed by NCSA, the Kurchatov Institute and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to better integrate the three science and education communities through development of shared and jointly managed “cyberinfrastructure”. By connecting Russia and China to the U.S. through the Chicago-based StarLight optical access point (, the GLORIAD network also provides Chinese and Russian scientists, educators and students direct connectivity to an important common interconnection point for global research and education networks. GLORIAD is expected to provide for broader S&E; traffic exchange through network exchange points in Europe and Asia; it will also provide the first terrestrial advanced network directly connecting Europe and Asia – across the territory of Russia.

In speaking of the importance of the new three-nation effort, former National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell stated in a recent press release ( “As part of the international community of science, we share common concerns that reach across national borders. As we all aim to strengthen our nations’ capabilities in research, we also aim to contribute to the cumulative knowledge that lifts the prospects of people everywhere. This new network serves as both a physical and symbolic reminder of our common goal of solving problems and building a world of peace and prosperity.”

For more information, please contact the GLORIAD program leadership. In Russia, contact Evgeny Velikhov, President, Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute” ( In China, contact Yan Baoping, Director, Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences ( In the US, contact Greg Cole and Natasha Bulashova, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ({gcole,natasha} @