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Professors Ghani and Hayat Receive DoD DTRA Grant to Fund Large-Scale Cyber-Infrastructure Testbed Study of Disaster Recovery Paradigms

February 5, 2013

Dr. Nasir Ghani
Dr. Nasir Ghani
Dr. Majeed Hayat
Dr. Majeed Hayat

UNM Electrical and Computer Engineering professors Nasir Ghani (Associate Chair, ECE) and Majeed Hayat (Associate Director, UNM Center for High Technology Materials) have received a three-year $1.05 million multi-institution Fundamental Research grant from the DoD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to support their work on cyber-infrastructure disaster recovery.

In particular, the project titled “Implementation Paradigms for Survivability of Cyber-Infrastructure Backbone Networks Against WMD Attacks Over Real Network Environments” will focus on large-scale prototyping and testing of advanced multi-failure recovery solutions in real-world test-bed infrastructures. 

The DTRA Fundamental Research Program focuses on applied work competitively selected from prior basic-research projects that have demonstrated a high level of maturity and promise for transitioning into the real-world for increased readiness.

Modern backbone cyber-infrastructures are comprised of multiple technology domains/layers and support scalable connectivity across large distances. Hence the reliable operation of these networks in the presence of catastrophic failures is of vital interest to national security and economic well-being, e.g., as occurring during natural disasters, weapons of mass destruction(WMD) attacks, cascading power outages, etc.

However, most existing recovery schemes focus only on single or limited dual node/link failures.  As such, these methodologies are very vulnerable to catastrophic events that can yield multiple geographically-correlated failures across cyber-infrastructure layers. Hence, there is a crucial need to develop robust survivability solutions to mitigate these concerns.

To address these challenges, Drs. Ghani and Hayat have recently concluded one of the first theoretical studies on counter-WMD backbone recovery, funded under an earlier DTRA Basic Research award. This effort has achieved a high degree of maturity and delivered some key findings in the area of failure modeling and intelligent recovery schemes.

However, few studies have looked at implementing and testing any advanced multi-failure recovery schemes in “live” network settings.  Hence the focus of this new DTRA Fundamental Research project is to conduct field trial evaluations of these new recovery paradigms, and validate and harden their performance in realistic settings. In particular, the first part of this effort will focus on implementing detailed algorithms inside distributed networking protocol stacks, i.e., routing, signaling and path computation. Subsequently, the next step will focus on designing and running detailed testcase scenarios to validate these schemes for a full range of disaster conditions over live network infrastructures.

As part of this effort, the UNM team will also partner with Mr. Tom Lehman and Dr. Xi Yang at the Mid-Atlantic Cross-Roads Gigabit Point-of-Presence facility (MAX) operating out of the University of Maryland College Park.  The MAX networking facility hosts (and has access to) a wide range of research cyber-infrastructures for detailed testing and evaluation purposes. Overall, this project will contribute significantly toward the advancement of new disaster recovery solutions and provide critical insights into the scalability challenges in the space. The work will also have many direct benefits for modern network carriers/operators.  Finally, this project will also help train several doctoral students at UNM and provide them with invaluable exposure to real-world facilities and practices.

Overall, Drs. Ghani and Hayat have established a strong collaborative research record in the areas of cyber-infrastructure design, disaster recovery, and distributed computing and resource allocation.  They have received other research awards from DTRA, the Qatar Foundation, the Department of Energy (DoE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  For further information, please visit Dr. Ghani’s and Dr. Hayat’s research sites.

Dr. Ghani’s link:  http://ece.unm.edu/%7enghani
Dr. Hayat’s link:  http://www.ece.unm.edu/lb