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UC Berkeley researchers help Internet evolve with launch of PlanetLab test-bed

- Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and a team of scientists from around the world have launched an experimental global network intended to push the Internet into a new era of innovation.

This global test-bed, called PlanetLab, establishes an open, scalable network that allows researchers to develop new Internet services that operate simultaneously on multiple computers spread over a wide geographic range rather than on a single website. Such a system could lead to significantly faster downloads and more secure storage systems.

PlanetLab operates as an "overlay" network on the existing Internet, much like the way today's Internet is an overlay on the existing telephone system. Researchers on the project are calling this the next stage in the evolution of the Internet.

More than 60 universities have joined forces with Intel and Hewlett-Packard in this project. David Culler, professor of computer science and co-director of the Intel Research Berkeley laboratory, is part of the core team that designed the architecture for PlanetLab. Others on the team include Thomas Anderson, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, and Larry Peterson, professor of computer science at Princeton University.

While PlanetLab has been operational for a few months, the project is now moving from a grassroots effort in the research community to a more formal research consortium. With initial support and funding for equipment provided by Intel, the network has now grown to 160 computers at 65 research and educational institutions around the world. The goal is to eventually network more than 1,000 computers.

One of the many UC Berkeley projects that stands to benefit is OceanStore. Led by John Kubiatowicz, associate professor of computer science, the OceanStore project spreads data storage over numerous servers to create redundancy that will protect information from regional outages and denial of service attacks.

"Increasingly important services are going to be implemented as capability spreads over much of the Internet instead of being concentrated at a few points," said Culler. "Berkeley is driving a lot of that agenda through its research in storage, naming and query processing. One of the motivations for developing PlanetLab was that there were leading researchers at Berkeley who had a clear direction in their projects, such as OceanStore, but no test-bed for trying it out."

In addition to Culler and Kubiatowicz, the PlanetLab project involves numerous researchers at UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), including John Chuang, Joseph Hellerstein, Anthony Joseph, Randy Katz, Ion Stoica and Hal Varian.

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