US Ignite Summit Highlights Advanced SDN, Cloud, Gigabit Apps

By Joan Engebretson July 09, 2013

The US Ignite Applications Summit in Chicago last week provided an opportunity to see and hear about some cutting edge apps for software defined networking, gigabit networks and the cloud. US Ignite, readers may recall, is a public/private partnership aimed at identifying apps that leverage these three technologies.

Here are some apps that captured my attention and why.

Most likely to be imitated by other app developers:

The University of Wisconsin’s WiRover app has been deployed in ambulances in Madison to support robust mobile broadband connectivity, enabling emergency medical personnel to obtain important patient records to enhance patient care en route to the emergency room. That’s a great use of technology, but what caught my attention was how developers used SDN to dynamically select the best of several different wireless networks (from four different carriers) depending on geography. That’s a capability that would seem to be useful to anyone who wants to help ensure robust wireless data communications.

Image via Shutterstock

Most interesting sociological phenomenon associated with a US Ignite app:

In recent years we’ve seen a blurring of the line between creators and consumers of content. Wikipedia invites anyone to share their expertise. And Twitter has become a crowd-sourced alternative to the traditional newswire.

This trend is likely to accelerate if the rtER app developed at Toronto’s McGill University is any indication. The name rtER is short for “real-time emergency response,” and the app will enable sophisticated two-way communications between emergency response dispatchers and citizens at the scene of an emergency. For example, if a building must be evacuated, the dispatcher could ask an rtER user with a smartphone to check one of the doors before advising people which door to use.

Most likely to generate controversy:

According to descriptive materials provided at last week’s event, PeerCDN – developed by Instant IO, Inc. – aims to “help reverse the dangerous trend of Internet censorship and centralization of important Web services.” The app enables website content to be served up over a peer-to-peer network made up of the visitors on the website at that moment.

Most relatable demo:

The European organization Testbed for Future Internet Services (TEFIS) is experimenting with a combination of video-based distance learning and augmented reality. US Ignite Summit attendees saw an example in which an instructor interacted with a three-dimensional model of a human heart that could be taken apart like a 3D puzzle. After a brief lecture, the instructor transferred the controls to students in a remote classroom who had an opportunity to reassemble the pieces of the heart that appeared to be floating in space.

The app that made me want to know more about a (so far) obscure aspect of SDN:

I learned a new technology term at the US Ignite event. The term is “slicing” and it’s an SDN-based alternative to virtual private networks for isolating traffic associated with a certain user or application from other traffic on the network. Developers aim to use slicing to isolate emergency communications to and from Ammon, Idaho to an emergency dispatch center with the goal of improving response time.

I read up a bit on slicing after the event and learned that it uses programming languages to create logical switches that can be configured like a physical switch. Supporters tout a range of benefits such as simplicity of set-up, reduced likelihood of human error and easy verification. Seems like a useful subset of SDN and one we’ll be hearing more about moving forward.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing Editor

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