The Swiss Education & Research Network
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SWITCH annual report 2000, translation to English,
Annual Report 2001
Management Summary -4
Imprint > Executive Management: SWITCH Foundation, Dr. K.-H. Krebser (firstname.lastname@example.org) > Editors: Dr. K.-H. Krebser and Dr. Franz Hard > Layout: MACH AG Communications, Baden > Printed by: Häfliger Druck, Wettingen > Print run: 800 copies, printed on chlorine-free bleached paper > Copyright: © SWITCH Head Office, Limmatquai 138, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Foreword Management Summary
SWITCH faces new challenges due to ongoing developments in education and research
III During its 14th year
of trading, SWITCH was faced with new challenges:
Reorientation of the
Foreword Management Summary
[continued from page 4] of domain names currently registered under the top-level domains .ch and .li became virtually linear. This trend also reflects the general growth of the Internet. Even in 2000, for many companies the confidence they had placed in the Internet had given way to a degree of disillusionment; indeed, for a number of firms, the year 2001 proved to be a low point. Despite this development, by the end of 2001 SWITCH recorded a significant increase in registered domain names, bringing the total to 440,000. Optimisation measures were applied in order to make more efficient use of the structures and this resulted in reduced costs for each domain name. By the middle of the year, SWITCH was in a position to pass on these cost savings to its customers in the form of lower charges.
The BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] Order, enacted by the Federal Government in December 2001, is of prime importance as far as domain name registration is concerned; this Order, which is based on the Telecommunications Act, has transferred responsibility for the allocation of domain names in the context of addressing elements. For its part, the Order has provided SWITCH with a legal basis for its registration activity and it has now been appointed the sole registration centre for .ch. Previous involvement by SWITCH in these activities was generally perceived to be of high quality.
With its new strategic orientation, SWITCH has also placed an emphasis on addressing and identification in the Internet environment. To this end, the Strategic Business Division Internet Identifiers has been created and, in addition to the ongoing registration activity, the objective is to deliberately exploit existing synergies and core skills for supplementary identification and addressing services on the Internet for universities and other interested parties.
More active communication
Dr. Karl-Heinz Krebser
Annual Report by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees
On course for a successful future
III During the financial year 2001, the Board of Trustees was principally involved with the Science Network for the Universities, Federal Institutes of Technology, Universities of Applied Sciences, domain name registration and the forward strategy of SWITCH. In all three areas, the course has been set for the future.
Dedicated network structure
SWITCH acquired new knowledge from expansion of the network. Its successful entry into service demonstrated that the chosen solution worked and that SWITCH was capable of implementing projects of this type. The first step has now been taken towards a new network generation and will form the basis for planning the future research network.
In the light of the positive experience acquired in this way, in November 2001 the Board of Trustees decided to install dedicated optical fibres to link all Universities, Federal Institutes of Technology and Universities of Applied Sciences to the network. This goal should be attained by the end of 2006, in a series of planned phases. The amount of investment in the national infrastructure [continued on page 9]
Annual Report by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees
[continued from page 8] is around 40 million francs. Funding has been secured.
What are the benefits for our customers? In the years to come, the universities will have access to bandwidth with a capacity 100 to 1,000 times greater than today ? and at todays prices. Not only that, capacity will be available for new applications, such as tele-lecturing, e-learning, mobility and video-conferencing or for exchanging any kind of multimedia content.
A legal basis for domain
This Order incorporates a number of proposals submitted by SWITCH. The organisation regards it as a satisfactory solution, since SWITCH is able to pursue its activities with virtually no changes. This demonstrates that the Internet community, including major Internet service providers, are highly satisfied with the services provided by SWITCH and that they consider the prices to be fair and reasonable. No-one wished to either dispute the organisations right to continue with this work or to become involved in this sector. This means that, in future, SWITCH will be the sole provider of these services for the .ch ccTLD. This speaks volumes for the quality of the work and, as far as SWITCH is concerned, it represents positive feedback from the market.
For SWITCH, this means that we can look forward to the future on a more secure footing and we can build upon our strengths and continue to exploit the financial synergies.
Further work on the strategic
- Possible new tasks in the context of an extended
interpretation of the purpose of the Foundation and in the light of the
future needs of the universities as input for the Federal Governments
manifesto for 2004 2007.
It must be said that none of these successful activities would be possible without the SWITCH Team, which always takes on new tasks in a committed and motivated manner. Heartfelt thanks to all SWITCH employees for their enthusiastic devotion to duty and hard work. They have demonstrated that they are equally able to cope with change. III
Dr. Andreas Dudler
Strategy and Organisational Structure
New Developments in Education and Research
III Today, as a scientific centre, Switzerland is
confronted with new challenges which have only come about in the wake
of Internet technologies. The traditional way of organising study and
research at the universities has been transformed by electronic options.
Initiatives and projects such as eEurope, e-science, e-teaching, e-learning
and grid computing are endeavouring to identify and actively participate
in shaping this trend. To this end, the following vision is being developed
on a worldwide scale:
Pilot projects which can turn this vision into a reality already exist. In the future, new demands will be made on the inter-university tele-information service operated by Switzerland, as it becomes a competitive and successful centre for education and research. III
Requirements for the range of services offered by SWITCH
III In the light of these requirements, the services
provided by SWITCH for the universities are heavily dependent on the network
infrastructure. The ultimate objective was to provide the universities
with rapid connections at high transmission capacities with maximum quality
and availability on a national and international scale. In addition to
the network infrastructure, the changes which have come about have resulted
in increased emphasis being placed on the following aspects of the service
to each university:
These developments will serve to further increase the demands placed on the network infrastructure in terms of speed and transmission capacities. In particular, flexible matching of transmission capacities will be of great significance, as demand is likely to accelerate in the wake of new technologies and applications. III
Strategy and Organisation Structure
Strategic Business Divisions for SWITCH the future Range of Services
III A Strategy Development Process was set in motion during the financial year 2001. The aim was to define the market position and range of services offered by SWITCH in terms of existing and future demands and then to introduce procedures in order to implement the strategy. The preliminary results were submitted to the Board of Trustees in November 2001. By giving its approval to the amended set of regulations for the organisation, the Board of Trustees laid the foundation for consolidating the strategic reorientation with organisational procedures. The Strategy Development Process did not conclude last year; instead, it will be repeated on an annual basis. This has the advantage that any fundamental strategic changes of direction can be examined and corrected if necessary.
The Network Business Division is concerned with providing and operating the science network, together with its worldwide access channels. In this Business Division, the SWITCHlambda Project represents the basis for a prompt and proportionate response to the rising demand for transmission capacities. The objective of the SWITCHlambda Project is to set up a nationwide network in Switzerland based on dedicated optical fibres. The first link in this network ? between Zurich and Geneva ? entered service in September 2001. In view of the positive experience gained with this link, in November 2001 the Board of Trustees decided to set up dedicated optical fibre links between every university, federal institute and university of applied sciences.
The Internet Identifiers Business Division is responsible for registering domain names under .ch and .li. In this regard, SWITCH is aiming to provide universities and other interested parties with additional services for identification in the Internet environment. In doing so, the range of new services (including addressing circuits such as Common Names or certification services) as well as the range of registration services for other existing top level domains will be examined. Following its experience with registering Internet domain names, SWITCH is capable of handling volume business and it incorporates a high-quality customer support structure. These skills may also play a significant part in developing future services for universities, [continued on page 14]
[Chart on page 13]
Composition of the Strategic Business Divisions (SBD)
[Column 1, top to bottom:]
[Column 2, top to bottom:]
Domain Name Registration
[Column 3, top to bottom:]
Content Delivery and Tools
Monitoring of Services
[Column 4, top to bottom:]
Strategy and Organisation Structure
[continued from page 13] as in the environment of certificates for example. In conjunction with the knowhow available in the other Business Divisions, SWITCH is in a position, in response to new initiatives concerning identification and addressing on the Internet, to assume a leading role on both the national and international arena.
The Value Added Network Services (VANS) Business Division embodies technologies and applications which are designed to support the new developments in education and research. An Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructure (AAI) is deployed so as to provide access to electronic resources by the specified user group. In order to avoid the need for resource-specific registration of each user, access will be granted in accordance with the existing confidential relationship within the Swiss higher education establishment. This will make it possible for a university to grant access, at low cost, to just one specific user group ? for example: students in every university. Thus, as far as SWITCH is concerned, the creation of an AAI is of major significance, as the same mechanism can be deployed for supervising access to the services it provides. In view of the high priority attached to this task, SWITCH has already secured the cooperation of the university rectors and is working closely with experts from the universities on formulating technical and organisational proposals, together with the associated legal framework. In the years to come, however, the actual implementation of these proposals will require considerable effort.
It is anticipated that the exchange of students, researchers and tutors between Swiss universities will increase during the years to come. The objective of the SWITCHmobile Project is to provide these mobile users with access to the Internet, to the resources of the host university and to certain resources offered by the guest university. In collaboration with the universities, SWITCH is devising solutions to the problem of mobility. While solutions which can be implemented relatively quickly are the priority for the initial phase, the solution to be adopted in the second phase will be designed to cater for the expected major changes in requirements in this area and to keep pace with technical developments. In particular, SWITCHmobile will operate in parallel with the activities of the AAI Project, reflecting the knowledge acquired in this way.
A further example of a future-orientated, ground-breaking project is SWITCHvconf. This project is intended to make IP-based video conferencing services accessible to a large group of users and to increase general awareness of the existing SWITCHvconf services. Other priorities include expansion to include additional service elements (ISDN gateway, directories, a reservation system) and improved integration into the international academic environment.
The Security Business Division represents acknowledgement of the fact that, in terms of the network and access to electronic resources, security is becoming an increasingly critical factor. This means that the security team at SWITCH needs to be easily accessible to system administrators, over and above those responsible for security at the organisations connected to the network. Expansion of the of the Incident Handling facility in conjunction with the SWITCH CERT service should enable SWITCH ? with direct support from the system administrators and in collaboration with the security officials ? to respond more quickly and, in particular, more consistently to any security loopholes and incidents.
Computers linked to high-speed networks are exposed to particular risk and are prime targets for attack. The intention [continued on page 15]
Strategy and Organisation Structure
[continued from page 14] is to counter this threat proactively with a new user support service; this is an important consideration with regard to further expansion of the high-speed network. The first step is to set up a security laboratory to provide support for activities such as advice on security and incident handling. At a later date, this facility can also be deployed for other tasks relating to the security of existing and new services. III
[Chart on page 15]
Organisation structure ? support for the strategy
[Entries in boxes, line by line and left to right:]
Switch organisation structure
Board of Trustees
Committee of the
Network Internet Identifiers VANS Security Management Services
III With the exception of the Network Business Division, the range of services has been repositioned or greatly expanded in all the Business Divisions. This realignment is supported by a new organisation structure which was introduced at the end of last year. The new organisation structure is orientated towards the strategic Business Divisions. This provides optimum support with repositioning the range of services. Not only that, responsibility for the realignment and the associated staffing resources rests with one department. The newly created Business Development administrative unit has also taken account of the process of change. The Management Services Division, in particular, has been expanded to deal with legal matters and PR/Marketing. The Personnel and Finance Divisions had already been expanded during the year under review. III
Swiss Science Network
SWITCHlan the Swiss Backbone Network 2001
[Chart, top right on page 16]
Increase in the volume of data transmitted between 2000 and 2001
GByte/Monat = Gbits/month
ETH-Bereich = Federal Institutes of Technology sector
Fachhochschulen = Universities of Applied Sciences
Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov Jan Mar May Jul Sep Nov
[Map, lower left on page 16]
SWITCHlan ? the Swiss Science Network (November 2001)
[Block top right]
US Link New York
[3 blocks at left, top to bottom]
1 Gbit/s via DWDM
US link New York
III Once again, during 2001 the backbone infrastructure, installed in 1999 (Project SWITCHng), continued to prove its worth. The network is functioning in a highly stable manner and the universities continued to receive good service. Collaboration with companies such as Ascom and Sunrise (formerly diAx) also proceeded without problem. The load on the network has steadily increased. The diagram on this page shows the rise in the volume of data transmitted via the Backbone Network during the past two years, equivalent to annual growth of 120%. The increase in Internet traffic in this period was exceptional. This is the traffic which arrives from the universities and from the SWITCH servers and leaves the SWITCH network (traffic to foreign universities and commercial firms). There are many reasons for this increase in traffic:
- Recently, the traffic flowing from the universities to SWITCH (and then onto the Internet) rose more sharply than traffic in the opposite direction. A possible explanation for this could be the wider distribution of peer-to-peer applications.
- The servers operated by SWITCH (SunSITE, Akamai)
are well known and used extensively far beyond the SWITCH community.
In the middle of January 2001, the planned 2.5 Gbit/s link between Zurich (ETHZ) and Geneva (CERN) entered service (the so-called Gigabyte Pilot Project). This link was supplied by diAx. It eliminated the imminent bandwidth bottleneck on the East-West axis of the Backbone Network and, in addition, made it possible to conduct a series of tests with gigabyte-compatible routers and user terminals. At the end of October 2001, approximately one month after the SWITCHlambda link between Zurich and Geneva came into service, the link was shut down.
On the map of the SWITCHlan Swiss Science Network, at the lower left of this page, the SWITCHlambda link between Zurich and Geneva is shown as a dark blue line. III
Swiss Science Network
Project SWITCHlambda the future based on Optical Fibres
[Diagram, top right on page 17]
Initial configuration of SWITCHlambda in 2001
1 Glasfaser = 1 optical fibre
Bern = Berne
Basel = Basle
Genf = Geneva
Zürich = Zurich
2.5 Gbit/s channels, implemented with two wavelengths, 1 for each direction
DWDM nodes with optical amplifiers, dispersion compensators and passive optical filters
Gbit Ethernet multiplexer/demultiplexer
III The purpose of the SWITCH-lambda Project is to set up a network covering the whole of Switzerland and based on dedicated optical fibres. The first stage towards installing this network was when the link between Zurich and Geneva entered service in September 2001. As early as December 2000, an agreement was signed with Fibre Lac SA, granting SWITCH a 20-year right to use an optical fibre pair line alongside the Zurich ? Basle ? Berne ? Lausanne ? Geneva autobahn. In May 2001, following evaluation of the DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) devices, which began in December 2000, the contract was awarded to DeltaNet AG, with a product supplied by Sorrento Networks. Detailed design of the planned was then finalised in close collaboration between SWITCH, DeltaNet and Sorrento Networks. In August 2001, installation work on the optical fibre pair line between Geneva and Zurich, acquired from Fibre Lac SA the year before, was completed and the link was handed over to SWITCH. Local loops to all the scheduled locations were already available at that time. Over the past year, work on the SWITCHlambda Project has placed a heavy burden on the SWITCH Network Team, involving evaluation of the DWDM devices and the gigabyte routers and implementation of the local loops (local supply lines from the autobahn to the universities), together with planning the installation work and carrying out the acceptance tests.
This ambitious target is only feasible with the aid of the collaborative agreement concluded with SBB Telecom in the autumn of 2001. Over the next 10 years, SBB will provide the semi-nationalised organisations BIT [Federal Office of Information, Technology and Telecommunication], Skyguide (the Swiss airspace monitoring organisation) and SWITCH with optical fibres under favourable price conditions. The density of the optical fibre network operated by SBB and the relatively short distances from the SBB centre of operations and SWITCH customer locations should result in a massive reduction of the average local loop costs. Based on a feasibility study in the summer of 2001, a possible topology for a comprehensive SWITCHlambda network has been drawn up. III
Swiss Science Network
Integration of the Universities of Applied Sciences
III 2001 was the second year of the three-year term of the agreement with Cablecom. The Cablecom network functioned in a more stable manner than in the previous year. In general, the Universities of Applied Sciences were satisfied with the service.
In 2001, the access points for the following three universities were re-installed: the Schweizerische Hochschule für Holzwirtschaft in Bienne, the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Kunst und Konservierung in Berne and the Zentral- und Hochschulbibliothek in Lucerne. By the end of the year, a total of 27 colleges had been directly connected to the university network. A further 29 universities had been indirectly connected to the network via another college or university. 16 colleges increased their access bandwidth in comparison with the previous year. Overall, data traffic to/from all the universities of applied sciences is around 15% of the traffic to/from the Universities and Federal Institutes of Technology and is in line with the ratio of university of applied sciences students to all students in Switzerland.
Unfortunately, due to technical problems, Cablecoms planned conversion of its network to MPLS (Multiple Protocol Label Switching), which had been scheduled for the year 2000, was still incomplete in 2001. This meant that the low-cost cable modem connections to be offered to University associates under the terms of the agreement with Cablecom had to be postponed. Nonetheless, during 2001 Cablecom installed thousands of Internet connections for private individuals, using cable modems. This is the solution preferred by the Universities ? access from home workstations to the University intranet system ? based on so-called VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and on MPLS. The cable modem VPNs were also affected by the postponed conversion to MPLS. As compensation, Cablecom provided around 100 university students with standard cable modem Internet connections at a reduced tariff. However, the administrative aspects (ordering process, delivery of the modems, invoicing, etc.) proved to be chaotic and resulted in a degree of annoyance on the part of various universities of applied science. Nonetheless, there is every reason to expect that conversion to MPLS will be completed during 2002 and that the promised cable modem networks will also become a reality. III
Tendering for HPC-WAN
III In February 2001, the ETH announced a GATT/WTO tendering process for a QoS-compatible IP service via a dedicated network in the Gbit/s range. The HPC-WAN network (high performance computing wide area network) is designed to interconnect the high-performance computers in the Federal Institutes of Technology and research institutions in Manno, Zurich and Lausanne. The aim was to create a Swiss HPC grid, a nationwide system of high-performance computers.
As an organisation which is itself bound by the tendering obligation, on ethical grounds SWITCH was unable to submit a tender. However, within the tendering period, a proposal was formulated for an HPC-WAN solution. This proposal showed how, in the opinion of Switch, a gigabyte network for the Swiss Universities should be configured. SWITCH suggested that the HPC-WAN should be implemented on the SWITCH network in the form of a demand-led expansion of the connection bandwidths and by means of suitable measures for safeguarding the required classes of quality of service. SWITCH believed that it was important for the Swiss high-performance network to be seamlessly integrated into the international research networks. In May 2001, the proposed solution was submitted to the CSCS in Manno and the requested upgrade was supplied in September 2001.
The HPC-WAN tendering process involved SWITCH in a considerable amount of work. However, it strengthened its conviction that a gigabyte network should be installed throughout Switzerland and that a step in the right direction had been taken with the SWITCHlambda Project. III
Swiss Science Network
Access to the other science networks and to the Internet in general
III The interconnection between the SWITCH network
and the other science networks and the Internet in general is based on
Access to the science networks
As far as science networks are concerned, the year 2001 was characterised by the transition from TEN 155 to GÉANT (the pan-European Gigabyte Research Network). The Project receives financial support from the EU in conjunction with the 5th Framework Programme; it started in October 2000 and will run until the end of September 2004. The DANTE company, in Cambridge, UK, coordinated the planning, tendering, evaluation and implementation of the network. The diagrams on this and the following page show the network topology and the coverage within Europe. SWITCH and CERN are sharing an access point with 2.5 Gbit/s bandwidth.
A major challenge for DANTE, as well as for the NREN (National Research and Education Networks), was the planning schedule. Due to the high ongoing costs, it was necessary, for the shortest possible period, to operate the old (TEN 155) and the new (GÉANT) network infrastructure in parallel. This was achieved without incident. At the end of November 2001 ? and on schedule ? the TEN 155 link was shut down. By this time, the majority of the new connections were operational, as was also the case in Switzerland. For SWITCH, GÉANT entered service at just the right time. During the previous months, the 155 Mbit/s access point to TEN 155 had sometimes reached maximum load and the quality of the links to the European Universities of Applied Sciences began to deteriorate.
The access point to the science networks overseas
(Abilene, vBNS, CA*net3,
[Map, lower right on page 20]
GÉANT Network with transmission capacities
[Acronyms as Swiss German original]
Swiss Science Network
[continued from page 20] the worldwide science networks via the GÉANT network.
(SCNA). Access to the Internet is provided by SCNA. During 2001, this link once again proved its worth in terms of stability and performance. One not insignificant benefit is the efficient and direct contact with Swisscom engineers in Berne. The agreement with Swisscom is due to expire at the end of May 2002. Based on current planning, in future SWITCH will purchase Internet transit in Switzerland and will surrender the US lines and the PoPs in New York. III
GÉANT ? access capacities by country
IP Quality of Service
III The SEQUIN (SErvice QUality for Independently managed Networks) Project is concerned with devising methods of providing quality of service guarantees on standard IP networks, based on the diffserv (Differentiated Services) concept. This Project, supported by the European Union in the context of the IST (Information Society Technologies) programme, will be headed by DANTE and includes participants from national research networks and from research institutions in Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Poland and Switzerland. In the case of Switzerland, these participants were drawn from the SWITCH Network Group and from the Institut für Informatik und Angewandte Mathematik [Institute of Information Technology and Applied Mathematics] at the University of Berne.
During 2001, work was concentrated on developing a Premium IP service which provides, at a specific data rate which must not be exceeded, reliable safeguards regarding package runtime (delay), runtime fluctuations (jitter, IP delay variation), package loss and throughput. The mechanisms required were configured on the routers of the new GÉANT network at the end of 2001. The Project will be completed during 2002. However, full implementation of the Premium IP service will only be possible with assistance from the national research networks and, if necessary, from regional and campus-based networks. III
Swiss Science Network
Value Added Network Services
Internet Protocol IPv6
III Over the past few years, Version 6 of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) has been developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It is designed to resolve a number of problems which have been encountered in the currently-used Version 4, in particular the severely-limited number of addressable user terminals. Since 1996, SWITCH has been operating a small IPv6 network as part of the 6bone testbed. This network consists of IPv6 islands which are interconnected, via tunnels, by the IPv4 Internet Protocol. In recent years, SWITCH has continued to provide institutions with IPv6 connectivity; these institutions include not only universities and universities of applied sciences but also interested companies in Switzerland and in neighbouring countries, together with other research networks in Europe.
During the year under review, SWITCH developed an
addressing plan for the IPv6 address range allocated by RIPE NCC, so that
each organisation which currently has an (IPv4) access point to SWITCH
can be allocated an official IPv6 address range. In September,
with MCLAB the first customer was connected to the IPv6 network; from
day one onward, this customer had IPv4 as well as IPv6 connectivity. Initially,
this access point was not implemented by tunnels but via separate ATM
PVCs. Finally, SWITCH also participated in the composition of the application
for the 6NET Project supported by the European Union in conjunction
with the IST (Information Society Technologies) Programme. The Project
was approved and officially commenced in January 2002. One objective of
this Project is to establish a production-type IPv6 infrastructure, whereby
DANTE assumed responsibility for coordination of the backbone. For SWITCH,
the main priorities will be adaptation of the Domain Name Service (DNS)
for IPv6 and specific questions relating to network management. The University
of Geneva is involved in the Project, acting a subcontractor on behalf
of SWITCH. III
SWITCH Web Server still an attractive proposition
III The number of objects requested from the SWITCH
Web Server ahs increased by 34%
Value Added Network Services
Swiss SunSITE and Panorama Camera
III The software archive on the Swiss SunSITE Server continues to be much in demand. The volume of data downloaded by users was 60 Tbytes, i.e. 2.5 times the figure for the previous year. This is equivalent to the data content of 89,000 CD-ROMs or a continuous data flow of 15 Mbit/s leaving the server. It is a fact that the limiting factor in attaining peak values was the 100 Mbit/s Ethernet interface; however, this will be replaced in 2002 by a Gbit/s interface. The increase was mainly due to demand for the latest releases of Linux distributions and the updated Web browsers.
The flow of data transmitted via HTTP increased fivefold. However, FTP continued to dominate with 93% of the total volume.
In the autumn of 2001, the SunSITE Web Camera, which has recorded 2,1 million individual images since the beginning of 1997, was replaced by a product supplied by the Redics company. The camera is no longer placed behind a window but is mounted outdoors on the SWITCH building at the headquarters in Zurich. The angle of view is now much greater and, in addition, a panoramic view is generated every hours and stored in the archive. Live video streams in a choice of three qualities are available (to date the average is 400 enquiries per day or 1 Gbyte per day). As before, the camera can be controlled by the user via the Web. III
[Graphs, lower right on page 23]
Swiss SunSITE volume per month
SWITCH Web Server enquiries per month
Value Added Network Services
Security services/CERT increasingly important, even for universities
III During 2001, the most significant media events in terms of network security were undoubtedly the Internet viruses Code Red and Nimda. In an exceptionally short space of time, both viruses succeeded in infecting several hundred thousand computers around the world, many of them home computers. On various occasions, the virus elimination activities generated by the infected computers resulted in serious disruptions to network operation. However, the principal damage occurred in the affected systems. Thanks to the high level of bandwidth availability within the SWITCH network, the additional traffic volume was handled without problems. By deploying its own encoding system, designed for this purpose, SWITCH assisted the connected organisations with the search for infected systems, thus making a significant contribution to more efficient ways of combating the infection. Not only that, everyone who followed the recommendations issued by SWITCH was able to successfully prevent any infection.
Although the high bandwidth in academic networks can often mitigate the effects of virus attack and disruption, it has a particular attraction for determined hackers. In the case of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, target computers or networks are saturated with excessive volumes of data. Computers linked to high bandwidth are ideal source computers for launching attacks of this type: large volumes of data can be transmitted to the target computers without causing problems within the high-speed networks and thus avoiding detection. If measures to prevent such misuse are not applied, this can result in legal consequences. Certain types of DoS traffic can be identified in the SWITCH backbone and are then reported to the organisations concerned.
In the autumn of 2000, TERENA introduced a registration
service, initially as a pilot service, for CSIRTs (Computer Security and
Incident Response Teams) within Europe and the surrounding area known
as Trusted Introducer (TI). The aim is to promote trust between
the existing security teams. To achieve this, Trusted Introducer maintains
a list of the known teams and designates those teams which fulfil certain
formal criteria as Level2 teams. SWITCH attained this status
in September 2001. Information about SWITCH which is available to the
general public can be accessed from the following URL:
Value Added Network Services
SWITCHvconf video conferencing a new service
III In the first half of last year, the core elements of a video conferencing infrastructure, based on ITU Protocol H.323, were installed at SWITCH. In the context of a pilot project, this infrastructure was deployed for virtual meetings by two user groups from the SWITCH environment. The experience gained from preparing and conducting these meetings has formed the basis for planning a video conferencing service for the Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences.
The principal findings from the pilot project include:
- At around 500 kbit/s, the bandwidth requirement for IP-based video conferencing is relatively modest and is only an obstacle in isolated cases. It would be an advantage to install a device for monitoring transmission quality between any two end points.
- The equipment which is currently available from the industrial sector was developed for ISDN or for enclosed IP-based corporate networks and requires centralised administration. Integration into the open, international SWITCH environment will take time and will be a priority activity during the coming year.
- In order to prepare and conduct video conferencing, the participant must be aware of a couple of basic facts. He must not only understand how to operate his terminal device, he must also know how a video conference is organised and how he must respond during a video conference. Since training and support for participants are major factors in achieving success with this new application, SWITCH has begun to set up a Helpdesk service.
During next year, the Universities should become more aware of the SWITCHvconf facility. By extending the service (ISDN gateway, directories, reservation system), the benefits to the participants should be increase and the method of using the service will be simplified. Priority will also be given to integration into the international academic environment. III
Registration Centre in figures ? the period after the Internet boom
[Graphs, lower left on page 26]
Increase in registered domain names 2000-2001
Brutto = Gross
Total number of registered domain names 19962001
Total number of
III The development and use of the Internet is reflected in the number of registered Internet domain names. In 1990, the first domain names were registered under .ch. 6 years later, at the beginning of 1996, some 1,500 domain names had been registered. During 1996, the number increased to more than 13,000, nearly ten times as many. Between 1997 and the end of 2000, the number doubled every year and, by the end of 2000, around 350,000 domain names had been registered. During the year under review, the number increased by a further 90,000 to a total of approximately 440,000.
The rise over the past few years also reflects the general growth of the Internet as well the high expectations placed in the new medium. During 2000, the level of satisfaction declined and this was followed in 2001 by disillusionment. With many dot.com companies, heavily capitalised on the stock exchange, their stock value collapsed to a fraction of its original value.
In 2001, what had been an exponential rise in the number of registered domain names reverted to virtually linear growth. An in-depth analysis of the growth rates reveals that, in addition to sluggish growth ? which is represented by the gross increase ? there was a massive increase in the number of cancellations of registered domain names in comparison with previous years.
However, closer examination of the rate of growth during the past year reveals a slight upward trend, although this cannot yet be regarded as an indication of a general recovery. For this reason, SWITCH is observing future growth with great interest. III
SWITCH confirmed as the Registration Centre for .ch and .li
III In accordance with the provisions of the Fernmeldegesetzes (FMG) [Telecommunications Act], the BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] is responsible for addressing elements and also regards Internet domain names as addressing elements. At the beginning of 2001, the BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] took the view that supervision of the allocation of Internet domain names should be regulated by a Ministerial Order. In the first draft of a Ministerial Order, the BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] opted for the registration model for the top level domain names .com/.net/.org. This model incorporated a registry which maintained the central database and publicised the name servers for the registered domain names on the Internet, together with a number of accredited registrars who handle the actual registration process on behalf of customers. This approach was intended to generate a market for the registration of domain names between the registrars. The BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] regarded the future role of SWITCH as simply an operator of the registry.
The draft Ministerial Order was distributed to interested parties for comment. The replies contained critical remarks concerning the following points:
- The market conformity of the proposed model was
called into question and consultation with future market players was requested.
Faced with the response from the consulted parties, the BAKOM [Federal Office for Communications] was compelled to organise a hearing. During this hearing, all the important points which SWITCH had postulated were endorsed by the represented parties. The Internet service providers ? who, on the basis of the model, were primarily destined to be the future registrars ? rejected the model. However, the services provided by SWITCH were deemed to be of very high quality and the prices were seen to be very reasonable. The draft Ministerial Order was then comprehensively revised in the light of the results of the hearing. The main points regulated by the new Ministerial Order include:
- The registration model will not be defined in greater
detail, which means that telecommunications service providers should have
the option of operating as whole-sales partners.
This Ministerial Order was approved by the Federal Government on 19 December 2001 and came into force on 1 April 2002. III
SWITCH cuts the price of Internet domain names
III SWITCH is dealing with the growing number of registered domain names by continuous expansion of the infrastructure, personnel and knowhow. Thanks to the vigorous growth, the capacity of the structures can be exploited to the full and they can be operated in a highly efficient manner. The consequence of this is lower costs for each registered domain name.
SWITCH has passed on these cost savings to its customers. The one-off registration fee has been reduced from 80.00 Sfr to 40.00 Sfr and the recurring annual fee has been reduced from 48.00 Sfr to 35 Sfr. These lower prices came into effect on 1 July 2001. Since the introduction of prices for the registration of Internet domain names in 1996, this was the second price reduction. The first price reduction came into effect in 1997, when both the registration fee and the annual recurring fees were halved. At that time, the number of registered domain names increased virtually tenfold. III
SWITCH and the activities of ICANN
III On 2 and 3 February 2001, under the title ICANN to Marina del Rey: Technical Mandate versus Political Challenge, the second conference of the (German-speaking) ICANN Study Group was held in Zurich. This conferences are organised by the Netcom-Institut, Leipzig, under the chairmanship of Prof. Wolfgang Kleinwächter (Institut für Medien- und Informationswissenschaften, Universität Aarhus) [Institute of Media Studies and Information Science at the University of Aarhus] and by the three registration centres in the German-speaking area DENIC, NIC-AT and SWITCH. The first conference of this type was held at the beginning of 2000 in Leipzig and the second took place in Zurich under the project management of SWITCH.
The objective was to bring the activities of ICANN to the attention of the German-speaking public and to include them as an item for discussion. To this end, experts from Switzerland and other countries were invited to enlarge upon the individual points from different ? and sometimes novel ? perspectives.
The main topics included:
The conference was attended by almost 200 visitors and, in the opinion of those taking part, was judged to be a great success. III
The SWITCH Education and Research Network