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THE ROOTS OF NORDIC NETWORKING. The worlds first international, multiprotocol network. Rolf Nordhagen University of Oslo. The beginning. An Open network is a network that follows a common, open standard, OSI National academic networks, UNINETT 1978, SUNET 1980, Centernet, X25 packet switched

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The roots of nordic networking


The worlds first international, multiprotocol network

Rolf Nordhagen

University of Oslo

The beginning
The beginning

  • An Open network is a network that follows a common, open standard, OSI

  • National academic networks, UNINETT 1978, SUNET 1980, Centernet, X25 packet switched

  • ARPANET to NORSAR, Kjeller, Norway 1973

  • Minicomputers, Timesharing, KOM Stockholm, Oslo

  • International Dial-up

Enter nordunet

  • Nordic Council of Ministers, NORDFORSK

    Bjørn Grønlund

  • The first meeting 1980, Dalarne, Sweden

  • 1983-84, the NORDUNET application

  • May 1985 9.2 Mill.NOK for 4 years

  • Initially NORDFORSK, then Stockholm QZ/SICS, Mats Brunell

  • Technical manager Einar Løvdal, Oslo

The requirements
The requirements

  • A stable, operating computer network, connecting Nordic Education and Research

  • Build on existing university networks

  • Use the Nordic telecommunication networks and international standards for tele- and data-communication.

  • Make a common use of data-resources, programs and databases available througout the Nordic area. Users shall be given access to Nordic and international networks and information services

  • Give the same opportunities for collaboration and information exchange as in European countries and the North American research communities


  • Establish a common Nordic infrastructure for the NR&E community by connecting the national nets.

  • New competence and services be created for the smaller communities.

  • The resources to be found in the national network organisations, with the local, university services operating the net.

  • A computer network would greatly increase bridging the large geographical distances caracteristic in the Nordic countries. Thus opportunities for research in remote communities would be greatly improved.

Interim services
Interim services

  • In 1984, IBM donated machines and leased lines for EARN, European Academic Research Network (modelled on Bitnet)

  • Local Ethernets, private networks X.25, PAD services - chaos

  • Make popular services Nordic wide, X.400 mail EAN

  • EARN to Europe, DECnet/HEPNET for physics

  • Work to local groups, EARN in UNI-C, EAN in UNINETT etc.

Difficult challenges
Difficult challenges

  • Firm belief and political pressure for CO OSI-protocols.

  • Standards slow in coming from ISO and CCIT

  • Slow development of common services.

  • Independent development of services in NORDUNET regarded as unrealistic

  • Reorientation of original goals

Reorientation strategy
Reorientation strategy

  • Continued support of interim solutions, but prepare for OSI migration (!)

  • Interim solutions to connect to international networks, EARN, UUCP, DECnet and Internet

  • Active participation in European OSI-efforts in RARE and COSINE, to build competence

  • Migration pilots, file transfer, base for further work, JANET coloured books, ISODE (X.25 over IP) ?

  • Reliable standards and services still regarded as 10 years off (JANET)

In 1987 new possibilities
In 1987 new possibilities

  • No continuation of support for the EARN leased lines. NORDUNET urged to connect the main Nordic nodes.

  • A major technological breakthrough, bridges to run Ethernet over slow lines, Vitalink bridges.

  • Sudden realisation of a possible Nordic Ethernet connecting the major nodes

  • National Ethernets based on the same technology connect to a clean Nordic net.

  • Institutional Ethernets on national nets connect users.

  • The X.EARN project quickly adopted early 1988

The nordunet multiprotocol plug
The NORDUNET multiprotocol plug

  • the basic X.25 service

  • EARN and RSCS

  • DECnet

  • TCP/IP

    The challenge not technolgy but organisation

    The distributed service concept

    An international, multiprotocol network

Nordunet the operational net
NORDUnet,the operational net

  • One stop shop for lines, Scantele

  • 64 kb/s Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Trondheim, 9.2 Reykjavik

  • Central node KTH, Stockholm

  • US NSFnet to Princeton via satellite, 56 kb/s

  • KTH connected Europe, EARN, HEPnet

  • Peering with EUnet

  • European interchange, GIX

  • Operating late 1988, official opening Oct.89

Not only a network
Not only a network

  • Inter-Nordic work-groups created competence on many levels

  • Catalytic effect on national networks and early commercial introduction

  • Joint activities creating international recognition and status in international bodies

International recognition
International recognition

  • The first DNS root-server outside US

  • RIPE as European Internet coordinator

  • Participating and forming IEPG and IETF Operation WG, other IETF work, MIME

  • In RARE WG8-management introducing open support of protocols and services, including TCP/IP as well as ISO OSI work


Europe and tcp ip
Europe and TCP/IP

  • Work on service harmonisation and OSI migration continued

  • Einar Løvdals urge for TCP/IP migration met with mixed reactions (Trieste 1989)

  • Support from research communities collaborating w. US and Canada

  • RIPE formed 1989, RIPE NCC in 1992

  • Large European communities forged ahead with OSI based services

    - and fell behind -

Nordic internet penetration
Nordic Internet penetration

1999 97 1999 97

1 Canada 42,82 7 8 Australia 34,33 5

2 Sweden 41,42 8 9 Singapore 31,08 9

3 Finland 40,80 1 10 N.Zealand 26,49 6

4 U.S. 40,65 4 11 Netherland 25,56 13

5 Iceland 40,35 3 12 Switzerland 24,58 11

6 Denmark 39,60 10 13 United

  • Norway 37,96 2 Kingdom 23,64 12

% per capita

The roots of nordic networking

And finally TCP/IP

US link

The rest is history !

The roots of nordic networking
NORDUnet is now a limited company NORDUnet A/S,owned and financed by Nordic states or state institutions


FI - Ministry of education SE - Högskoleverket IS - University of Iceland



20 M$

Small secretariat

Director Peter Villemoes

10 M$

All work done

by partners

The network in 2001


The network in 2001













Communication is cooperation
Communication is Cooperation

  • Services could not be done by one provider alone

  • The necessary level of competence could not be reached on a country by country basis

  • Institutional groups too small both in

    • people with interest and knowledge

    • resources and demanding users

  • Development cooperation required on all levels

The nordunet lesson
The NORDUNET lesson

  • Many institutions scattered across several countries worked together by each getting major responsibilities

  • Distributed projects create joint enthusiasm and work towards common goals

  • Shared responsibilities

  • All got benefit from building competence

  • Network communication is working together

The roots of nordic networking

Networks are communication

Communication is cooperation

etworks are cooperation

The roots of nordic networking

"Skalat madr rúnar rísta,

nema ráda vel kunni”

Egill Skallagrimsson