Global demand for broadband communications continues to increase substantially every year.  A major factor contributing to this demand is the growing number is forecast that by 2020, the number of network-connected devices will be of fixed and mobile broadband users, data-hungry applications like video, as well as an ever-increasing number of network-connected everyday objects and machines.  It reaches 1000 times the world’s population, while data volumes transported over networks will progressively grow to Zettabytes and upwards.

These trends pose entirely new challenges related to data volume, granularity, end-to-end connectivity and reach, as well as increasing heterogeneity in network technologies (i.e. wireless and wired), networked-connected devices (i.e. sensors, mobile phones, computers, TVs, Data Centres) and services (i.e. Tbps data transfer for e-science, ultra-low latency financial transaction, real-time media streaming, kbps for sensor-based monitoring).   Addressing these challenges necessitates radically new network models supporting convergence of traditionally separate network technology domains, and offering high flexibility and adaptability in data granularity and throughput.

To achieve its goals, TOUCAN will rely on Software Defined Networking (SDN) principles.  The project will drastically evolve SDN to incorporate fundamentally new technology-specific interfacing and resource description, followed by infrastructure resource abstraction, virtualisation and programmability.  These features will enable any network technology and device to become “TOUCAN-ready”, which means that the devices are programmable and interoperable.  This is the foundation upon which the technology-agnostic feature of the TOUCAN architecture will be fulfilled, and so ultimate seamless end-to-end convergence will be achieved.

The project

The five-year TOUCAN project led by Dimitra Simeonidou (Director, Smart Internet Lab/Co-director, Bristol Digital Futures Institute at the University of Bristol) has been awarded funding of £6 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The project brings together the following internationally-renowned academics:

The TOUCAN consortium also includes external partners: