HomeGeneralTechnologyProjectsR & D



MREN Architecture and Technology



Technical Requirements




[Home][General][Technology][Projects][R & D]






MREN was first conceptualized in 1993 when a consortium of universities and research laboratories established a project to determine the requirements and technologies that would meet the advanced networking needs of research scientists. The design, development, and implementation of MREN resulted from an extensive analysis of multiple application requirements (especially those of the major inter-organizational scientific research projects) and of currently available and emerging technologies. MREN was initially built on a commercial infrastructure -- the Ameritech Public Data Network (APDN). In 1993, MREN assisted in designing and developing one of the world's first public Internet exchanges - the Network Access Point (NAP), an Internet peering facility in Chicago. A more complete description of the design and development of MREN is porvided in a recent book, which uses MREN as a case study: Next Generation Internet: Creating Advanced Networks and Services (Mambretti and Schmidt, 1999: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-32762-X)

The majority of regional connectivity provided by MREN is based on high-performance lightpath channels using wavelength-based services within dedicated optical fiber. Almost all MREN members have their own optical fiber, based on long term leases.





Technical Requirementss

MREN has always been oriented to designing digital communication services that meet a series of challenging goals: the services had to meet aggressive short-term needs, be easily scaleable, allow low-cost expansion to meet future needs, especially for future advanced applications, and take advantage of emerging technologies, while remaining compatible with existing communication services. Also, MREN had to provide access paths to other regional networks, state-wide, national and international networks. The resulting designs have been consistent with the strategic technical directions of the MREN consortium, and it has provided a useful model for other research and education infrastructures requiring advanced technologies.

MREN networking designs are based on extensive analysis of current and anticipated broadband applications, on balancing the needs of research applications against implementation economics, and on separating immediate technical requirements from highly desirable features and future requirements. MREN designs incorporate the following requirements:

a) high performance

b) high reliability,

c) security,

d) modularity,

e) standards-based,

f) scaleability,

g) expandability,

h) manageability at all technical layers, and

i) operational at increasingly higher performance over time.



MREN has a proven track record of high quality with regard to all criteria.

High Performance: The communications foundation of MREN is a high performance infrastructure backbone. Its topology allows MREN to minimize latency. This topology provides full cell switching connectivity between the sites without the delay of additional hops through routers. Currently, plans are being developed to enhance performance through wave-length based network services.

High Reliability: Uptime has been 99.999%.

Security: Appropriate security has been provided, and current objectives are linked to community requirements; special security issues are addressed through several cooperative projects.

Expandablity: MREN has consistently provided an easy path for other organizations to immediately acquire economical high-speed access to other sites within the member community. A major strength of this design is that additional sites (those of existing and new member organizations) can easily be linked to MREN simply by provisioning required services on an interlinked infrastructure, allowing immediate switching capability high-speed connectivity among all connected sites. Another advantage is that a variety of different services are available through the same communication infrastructure; not all participants are required to be at the same level.

Scaleability: This characteristic was been consistently demonstrated as MREN as developed over the last decade. MREN has provided paths for SONET technologies at OC-3c 155 Mbps, OC-12c 622 Mbps, OC-48c, gigabit and multi-gigabit speeds.

Modularity: Results have been positive on interoperability among various components to take advantage of new technology and to manage existing technology. MREN's modularity was recently demonstrated by the development of its new interchange facility at StarLigtht (

Standards-Based: MREN develops its designs on open, widely accepted standards, developed by international standards organizations.

Manageability at All Technical Layers: MREN's management model has been proven highly successful. It is distributed at higher layers and is managed by the Technical Committee at its core layers.





Copyright 2010 by MREN