Operation and maintenance of CAIRN is performed by CAIRnoc, a network operation center operated by the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI) in Marina del Rey, CA and Arlington, VA.
The CAIRN equipment at a research site is divided into research equipment (routers and hosts) and the configure layer.
The configure layer, which forms the basic communication infrastructure, includes CSUs for T1 lines and ATM switches for the high-speed lines.
The research equipment is 'breakable' for experiments, while the configure layer is generally under control of CAIRNoc. However, it is a goal of CAIRN to develop tools to allow researchers to have distributed control of the logical topology [MIT] created in the configure layer.