Computer Science Seminar: “StarLight Software Defined Exchange (SDX) and The Global Research Platform”

Join us for the first Computer Science Seminar of Fall 2023 on September 22, 2023 at 12:45 where Joe Mambretti of Northwestern University will be talking about “StarLight Software Defined Exchange (SDX) and The Global Research Platform.”

The talk will take place online.

Sign up here.


This presentation will describe the StarLight Software Defined Exchange (SDX) within the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility, a nexus of over 120 networks extending to paths world-wide, including over 95*100 Gbps paths and 20*400 Gbps paths. The StarLight Facility is designed, implemented, and operated by a university and national research lab consortium specifically to support large scale global data intensive science. Current information technology is being transformed by innovations creating higher levels of abstraction for infrastructure, enabling unprecedented levels of virtualization and enabling the creation of new types of highly programmable, flexible, fluid, distributed environments. Some of these models have been expressed as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Anything as a Service (XaaS), and related models. These approaches are motivating a transition from dependencies on limited capability static infrastructure (foundation physical resources with rigid configurations and implementations) to capabilities that allow for large scale, highly distributed programmable environments, including those such as SDXs that adjust dynamically in real time to changes in workflow requirements, flows, and faults. Currently, this innovative architecture is being used by an international partnership to support the Global Research Platform (GRP), a highly distributed environment for data intensive science research. Science is global and open information sharing is a cornerstone of the science process, especially as science utilizes increasingly large volumes of data from around the world. The GRP is advancing scientific research across multiple domains with services for powerful distributed ecosystems, programmable cyberinfrastructure that integrates high-performance computing, storage, networks, data, analytics, and major instruments world-wide, based on global WANs, including 100G-400G-800G-Tbps-E2E paths.


Joe Mambretti is Director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, which is developing digital communications for the 21st Century. The Center, which was created in partnership with a number of major high tech corporations, designs and implements large scale services and infrastructure for data intensive applications (metro, regional, national, and global). He is also Director of the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN), an advanced high-performance network interlinking organization providing services in seven upper-Midwest states, which created the world’s first GigaPoP, and the Director of the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility in Chicago, a global exchange for advanced high performance networks, especially to support of global data intensive scientific research. He has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as several books on advanced networking.