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Silk Project Operations, Networking and GEANT Extension


The SILK Project will provide a satellite-based extension to GEANT for eight Former Soviet Union (FSU) republics, connecting in their NRENs. This SPONGE project will enable EC persons to assist FSU academics get the best out of a NATO funded 4MEuro grant for SILK. The original grant may not be spent on the items given here, which are vitally needed to make SILK a success. SPONGE will provide Project Management for SILK. It will also provide measurement services (in conjunction with the Georgian partner) to ensure that requisite QoS is achieved. It will ensure (with the Armenian partner) that appropriate personal communications services could be made available (voice/IP and multimedia conferencing) to improve personal communications for SILK. Finally it will provide information services, disseminate information about SILK activities, and try to ensure ongoing financial support from outside NATO at the end of their funding after 2004.

The NATO Science Committee has awarded a grant (SILK) for the provision of a VSAT-based network, which will provide GEANT access for the NRENs of the newly independent states (NIS) of the Southern Caucuses and Central Asia. Additional grants provide for operating the VSAT hub, LAN equipment for connecting the NRENs and special tariffs for the satellite bandwidth. None of this may be spent on European staff. The SPONGE Project is a complementary initiative that will ensure a maximum benefit for NIS grantees; SPONGE will provide overall management for SILK, infrastructure services needed (like documentation, a web site and information services), and training help. Technical structures will provide performance information on the system, and mechanisms for optimal tuning. Under SPONGE we will explore mechanisms for providing better person-person communication on an IP basis using the SILK network. The management structure provided under SPONGE will enable the NIS NATO SILK grantees and the NGO funding bodies in the SILK countries, to make operational and upgrading decisions; much of the technical information on which these decisions are made will come from the activities of SPONGE. Finally the organisational activities set up by SPONGE should assist in attaining sustainable longer-term services.

WPs are Management, Infrastructure services, measurement and personal communications. For project management, we will set up some Committees: a Finance Policy Committee (with mainly the funding parties), a Policy Steering Committee (with representatives from FSU grantees and funding parties), and a Technical committee. These will have clearly agreed terms of references, meet occasionally physically, and communicate by e-mail with also regular teleconferences. The SPONGE grantees will service, and partially chair, the Committees. The infrastructure services will include liaison with other projects. We will disseminate information about SILK/SPONGE by the establishment of a Web site, e-mail exploders, facilities for co-ordinating teleconferences, and the co-funding and encouragement of relevant training sessions and workshops. To provide a sustainable system after 2004, our management structure will aim to transition much management to the Eastern countries. The workshops will be aimed to transition maximal operational know-how to the Eastern NRENs. The partnership of the groups in Armenia and Georgia is specifically to build up local centres of enterprise. Finally, we expect to provide a financial structure that will be attractive to NGOs and other aid agencies. For technical information we will ensure that relevant statistics are gathered at the earth stations and routers. We will build monitoring facilities to derive operational performance data on many aspects of the system. We will gather data on the advantages gained from the Content Caches available at each earth station, and experiment with optimising the cache parameters in this environment. In SILK countries multi-party telephone calls and multimedia conferencing are unavailable. We will ensure Voice/IP and multimedia conferencing between SPONGE partners. Wider deployment to all SILK partners may require further investment.

Funding Scheme

ACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures


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Participants (3)

Tupik Khandjian Str. 10, Apt. 2
375010 Yerevan
Chavchavadze Ave. 74
380062 Tbilisi
Broerstraat 5
9712 CP Groningen