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Virginia Universities Combine Forces For The National Lambdarail
Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP) is Formed

September 16, 2003 -- With heated global competition, the United States is in a marathon race to maintain an edge in fundamental areas of research and innovation. The National LambdaRail (NLR) initiative will provide critically needed high-speed network infrastructure for the next generation of research. Going beyond Internet and Internet2 technology, NLR will provide the resources for members across the nation to connect to a fiber optics network with supercomputing, storage and visualization capabilities suited to “big science” research. NLR will provide a national fiber optic backbone linking research universities and laboratories at gigabit and higher speeds. The NLR initiative is a partnership formed by many leading research universities and corporate networking entities throughout the United States.

To create the NLR backbone, regional nodes will be positioned in major urban areas to form a trans-continental network. The regional nodes serve not only as a component of the NLR backbone but also as the regional access points to the NLR. In the mid-Atlantic region, Washington, is the major urban area. A node will be placed in the fiber carrier’s regional access point in Northern Virginia to create the Washington NLR node.

Virginia’s research universities have formed the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership (MATP) to sponsor location of an NLR node in the area, to facilitate access to it, and to strengthen collaboration for combining computational resources and application support. Founding members of MATP include Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, George Mason University, the College of William and Mary, and associate member Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Membership is open to any public or private research institution in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington. The Virginia Tech Foundation, acting on behalf of MATP, is the NLR member representing Virginia, Maryland, and Washington. Each MATP participant will share a portion of the cost commitment made by the Foundation to ensure location of an NLR node in the Washington area and access by area institutions.

Additional Points on NLR/MATP:

  • NLR will initially support four 10 gigabits/sec wavelengths. Additional wavelengths will be available to provide network transport for future specialized applications.
  • NLR is legally constituted as a 501-C-3 by its member organizations. The estimated cost is $80 million for the first five years. Each regional node requires a $5 million fee, while the fiber lease is for 20 years.
  • The MATP is a consortium, with each member paying an annual fee of approximately $100,000 per year for five years.
  • In addition to providing support for NLR, MATP will provide a forum for cooperation among participating institutions to implement terascale research computational and communication infrastructure to support research requirements described in the Cyberinfrastructure report published by the National Science Foundation (http://www.cise.nsf.gov/evnt/reports/toc.htm).
  • MATP will focus on finding ways to enhance research competitiveness for participating institutions while increasing computational capabilities and minimizing costs through collaboration.
  • The Virginia Tech Foundation has appointed Erv Blythe, vice president for information technology at Virginia Tech, to serve on the NLR Inc. Board of Directors. Blythe has been extensively involved in the detailed planning and development of the NLR initiative. Prior to its creation, he wrote several key papers outlining the research and experimental mission and charter for the proposed organization, and he has been instrumental in its organizational development.
For more information, contact:

Erv Blythe, Chief Technology Officer

Virginia Tech 540-231-4227

blithe@vt.edu

Robert Reynolds, VP and CIO

University of Virginia, 434-982-2249

rreynolds@virginia.edu

Jeff Crowder, Project Director

Virginia Tech 540-231-3900

crowder@vt.edu

Lee Graves, News Editor

University of Virginia, 434-924-6857

graves@virginia.edu

Local Contacts:
George Mason: Helen Ackerman 703-993-8860 <hackerma@gmu.edu>
Old Dominion: Jennifer Mullen 757-683-5501 <jmullen@odu.edu>
Oak Ridge: John Nemeth 865-576-1898 <NemethJ@orau.gov>
Virginia Commonwealth: Michael Frontiero 804-828-2725 <mdfronti@vcu.edu>
William and Mary: William T. Walker 757-221-2624 <wtwal2@wm.edu>


Quotes Regarding the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership and National LambdaRail

“The purpose of MATP is to promote the research competitiveness of institutions in the region. The NLR infrastructure will provide an enabling experimental infrastructure for new forms and methods of science and engineering. The greater Washington area - Virginia and Maryland - needs to be an early player in this developing experimental network infrastructure, just as it was an early player in the emergence of the internet. It’s important to note NLR is not simply more internet technology; it brings flexibility and specialized capabilities beyond any ‘best effort’ network system such as the internet.”
Erv Blythe
Chief Technology Officer
Virginia Tech

“The Foundation was asked by Virginia Tech and other research entities to act as a proxy for greater Washington area research interests to assure the extension of this national experimental optical network into the region. The Foundation would not have taken this role in NLR without assurances from Virginia Tech and more recently from the emerging Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership that these organizations will facilitate and encourage connections to NLR by any appropriate regional research entity developing applications and capabilities consistent with the NLR vision.”

“We owe a special thanks to Dr. Robert Reynolds, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the University of Virginia, for the energy and drive he has put behind creation of the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership. Also, I’d like to personally acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of Erv Blythe, Vice President of Information Technology here at Virginia Tech in providing leadership both nationally and within Virginia for launching this important initiative."
Dr. Raymond Smoot
Executive Vice President
Virginia Tech Foundation

“I am proud to see Virginia’s research universities taking a leadership role to promote the science and research competitiveness of the region and delighted to witness the improved collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness that MATP will deliver for the entire mid-Atlantic region. A hallmark of our administration has been a focus on support for research and technology-related initiatives. The National LambdaRail and the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership are instrumental to the realization of the Southern States High Performance Supercomputer Network Grid project sponsored by our administration and endorsed by the Southern Governor’s Association (http://www.southerngovernors.org/resolutions/resPDF/Res_Warner_super_grid.pdf). This administration believes the future economic health of our state and nation hinges upon our ability to maintain a world leading position with respect to innovation and technology.”
Mark Warner
Governor of Virginia

"As U.Va. vigorously pursues plans to enhance its prowess in science, engineering and technology, the NLR will become a key infrastructural component for high performance computation and collaborative research utilizing huge scientific data sets. It represents the next generation of large scale digital communication beyond the current commodity internet and Internet 2."
Dr. Robert E. Reynolds
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
University of Virginia

“Old Dominion University is pleased to participate in the development of this optical network, which will create exciting opportunities for new levels of research collaboration among the institutions and research facilities in the Mid-Atlantic Terascale Partnership. The NLR will be a valuable resource in achieving the research goals and objectives of Old Dominion and will be a significant asset for the university's computational sciences and modeling and simulation programs, which help drive economic development in the Hampton Roads region.”
Rusty Waterfield
Director of the Office of Computing and Communications Services
Old Dominion University

"The NRL and MATP are critical to engineering and science research at VCU, especially the life sciences. We will now be able to provide our faculty with access to computing facilities, huge data bases and other researchers throughout the United States -- something we are not currently able to do."
Mark D. Willis
Assistant Vice President, Administrative Information Technology

Virginia Commonwealth University

"This partnership fulfills a key goal in the state-wide IT strategic plan developed by the CIOs of Virginia's public higher education institutions. It enables the type of cost effective collaboration needed to ensure Virginia's institutions thrive in the new ‘big science’ research environment.”
Joy R. Hughes
Vice President for Information Technology
George Mason University

“As William and Mary faculty members and their students advance their work in bio-genetics, computer science, physics, and computational science, the LambdaRail will offer them the most advanced communication available. We are pleased to be an initial partner in this most advanced research communication network."
Geoffrey Feiss
Provost
College of William and Mary


"Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) firmly believes that the viability of the university research enterprise can be most effectively sustained and enhanced into the future through an NLR-networked connection with each other and to this nation's Federally-funded high-end computational centers, such as that at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We enthusiastically support the participation of our members and all universities in this exciting and historic NLR venture. ORAU will host a series of events to promote increased university research activity."
John C. Nemeth
PhD and Vice President
ORAU

Contact: Jean Elliott, (540) 231-5915

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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