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Integration of High Performance Services for Interactive Vocational Training

Objective

The RENAISSANCE project is developing a virtual vocational training environment to deliver multimedia content to 5 SME communities across Europe. Two diverse training domains have been selected (music industry and networking) for the requirements they provide regarding bandwidth, synchronisation and quality of service. The main objectives are to demonstrate that:
- A broadband digital network based upon an integrated ATM, CATV and ISDN is capable of supporting a comprehensive computer based interactive vocational training environment;
- The provision of an integrated environment from bearer to the desktop can be supplied on a heterogeneous and distributed infrastructure for use by non computer-literate users.
The project contributes to the Information Society in Europe by demonstrating an application of potential practical value to large numbers of individuals and businesses throughout the region, but underpinned by a model of the ongoing cost implications of deployment derived from the tariff structure developed in the project. The project will also increase understanding of the feasibility of using emerging broadband technologies as a medium for updating skills in the European workforce.
Expected Impact
Whilst RENAISSANCE will concentrate on the development and provision of communications services, the application domains have been selected to generate real uptake and to offer societal benefits in contributing to technologies for economic regeneration. The Networking and Music Industry training domains have been selected because they have an audience of early adopters with some experience of computer aided applications.
Results of the project are being promoted both within the ACTS Programme and to the wider community by publications, conference presentations and through workshops hosted by the project.

Main contributions to the programme objectives:
Main deliverables
The project produced a demonstrator for online learning which was run over interworking ATM, CATV and Ethernet networks.
Contribution to the programme
The project demonstrated the feasibility of running sophisticated, distributed online learning services over heterogeneous networks using an IP fabric to integrate the underlying networks.

Technical Approach
The RENAISSANCE System is based upon an integration of broadband ATM and CATV network technologies and NISDN within a comprehensive layered service architecture, with ATM (via JAMES) providing the underlying backbone interconnection infrastructure for pan-European connectivity.
This will demonstrate the viability for a service delivery business model which is independent of bearers and components and also capable of interoperability across technology boundaries. Key technical areas which the project is exploring are:
- Development of a three layer model encompassing network, information and user services to construct a fully integrated, distributed solution for the provision of distance vocational training;
- Network Services: The network infrastructure itself based upon the use of IP across the ISDN, CATV and ATM bearers for both LAN based and remote access users;
- Information Services: The basic application services using the IP network (e.g. WWW, X.400/X.500 ISO SR);
- User Services: The integrated desktop which brings together the information services, management environment and the vocational training environment;
- A thorough impact analysis and evaluation of the suitability of emerging technologies for this application domain;
- The development of a tariffing model from bearer to user which demonstrates the costs incurred at each layer of the system;
- The development of end-to-end performance models and the validation of these with the established trial infrastructure itself;
- The broadband digital data communications capabilities of the CATV cable network infrastructures. This contribution will include work with the IEEE 802.14 standards committee and their collaborations with DAVIC and the ATM Forum;
- Refinement of the API between the user/information service toolset and the course-ware. This involves participation in the BESA working group defining the Open Integrated Learning System standard (OILS).
Summary of Trial
The RENAISSANCE trial will establish a vocational training infrastructure which will be used to supply training on "Operating and Managing a Recording Studio" and "Organising a European Concert Tour", for the music industry, and "Local Area Network Internetworking & Interoperability" and "Business Information Technology", for the networking industry. This Trial will run for a period of eight months. Three server sites will be established across Europe (Dublin, Sheffield and Sligo) to support the five specialised vocational training SMEs and educational institution delivery sites (Dublin, Naples, Newark, Samos and Sheffield). The National Hosts supporting this infrastructure are: Northwest Labs with their interconnected CATV, ATM and NISDN networks; Yorkshire Cable with their NISDN and CATV networks; ATM provision is being negotiated with BT, Telecom Eireann and Telecom Italia under the JAMES Project. The trials will support the vocation training Learning Environment, X.400/X.500 WWW, Mbone, ISO SR and a variety of file transport services.
Key Issues
Many of the technological problems are related to the interconnection and integration of heterogeneous systems, particularly when crossing national boundaries and using systems provided by a multiplicity of suppliers. The key issues are:
- The expected end-to-end performance capabilities of the applications across the different networks for both local and remote access. Of particular interest is the question of under what conditions does ATM provide a lower end-to-end delay than primary rate ISDN;
- The tariffing structure appropriate for ensuring that the provision of such a system will be commercially viable for all suppliers concerned and remain attractive to customers;
- The suitability of this technology for providing a meaningful learning experience to students in comparison to more traditional methods;
- Copyright and security issues of a distributed client-server application (potentially Europe-wide).

Coordinator

Fretwell-Downing Data Systems Ltd
Address
Brincliffe House 861 Ecclesall Road
S11 7AE Sheffield
United Kingdom

Participants (17)

Dunelm Services Ltd
United Kingdom
Euristix Ltd
Ireland
Jazz und Rock Schule
Germany
Kyros
Greece
National Centre for Popular Music
United Kingdom
Newark & Sherwood College
United Kingdom
Nexor
United Kingdom
North West Labs Ltd
Ireland
SHEFFIELD HALLAM UNIVERSITY
United Kingdom
Address
Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Howard S
S1 1WB Sheffield
Screenphones Ltd
Ireland
Sheffield College
United Kingdom
Teltec Ltd
Ireland
The Sound Training Centre of Ireland
Ireland
UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
United Kingdom
Address
Western Bank
S10 2TN Sheffield
UNIVERSITY OF THE AEGEAN
Greece
Address
University Hill, Administration Bldg.
Università degli Studi di Napoli
Italy
Address

801 Napoli
Yorkshire Cable Ltd
United Kingdom