ERCIM News No.35 - October 1998

GMD and Hitachi to develop new Active Network Architecture

by Stefan Covaci

A new Active Network Architecture will be developed by GMD Institute for Open Communication Systems and Hitachi, Ltd. During a meeting in Berlin the Hitachi and GMD Executive Committee agreed in July 1998 on a R&D project aimed at providing a new network infrastructure based on the new Active Network Architecture.

Recently, ATM/Router-based broadband telecommunications and data communications infrastructure has increased rapidly in both capability and flexibility. This is enabling a variety of new telecommunications features and applications. At the same time, deregulation and globalisation of the telecommunications market are creating a large number of new business sectors and players.

The versatility of higher level applications and the heterogeneity and dynamically evolving requirements of customers and users, demands a flexible and easily adaptable and extensible network infrastructure. Most importantly there is demand for a rapid, dynamic and smooth creation and integration of new services and service features.

The new architecture is based on a strict separation of the switching and routing functions from the network service or control functions. The traditional switch and router is augmented towards an integrated active node that has programmable switching or routing and data processing functions. Using a CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) based distributed processing environment (DPE) as an inter-node open platform, the active node will allow for remote programmability.
Local programmability of the active node functions and management of resources are provided by means of a mobile agent environment enabling asynchronous implementations of network-wide services such as policy-based control and management. Legacy system integration such as TMN (Telecommunication Management Network) and IN (Intelligent Network) is achieved through CORBA-based wrappers that provide CORBA-interfaces for CORBA-applications by hiding legacy system’s proprietary interfaces. A dedicated Object Request Broker (ORB) will provide requirements such as scalability and reliability (real-time, fault tolerance), Quality of Service guarantees, and protocols like an Internet Protocol multicast.

The two year joint project, known as BANG (Broadband Active Network Generation) was started in July 1998 and will provide the necessary infrastructure for future intelligent and active networks.

Mr. Toshiakira Ikeda, General Manager of the Strategic Business Development Division of Hitachi’s Information Systems Group, said: “The active network architecture proposed is very encouraging. We expect it to be a technological trigger, boosting future network technology and solution.” Prof. Dr. Radu Popescu-Zeletin, Director of GMD Institute for Open Communication Systems, added, “we are very pleased with the scientific and the development results achieved so far within the Hitachi-GMD co-operation. The BANG project will provide the basis for new network technology for the next century.”

More information is available at

Please contact:

Stefan Covaci - GMD
Tel: +49 30 3463 7171

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