UCLP is a software system that allows end-users, either people or sophisticated applications, to treat network resources as software objects and provision and reconfigure lightpaths within a single domain or across multiple, independently managed, domains. Users can also join or divide lightpaths and hand off control and management of these larger or smaller private sub-networks to other users.

UCLP is designed to enable end-users to create their own discipline or application-specific IP network, particularly in support of high-end e-science and Grid applications. For example, a community of high energy physicists could create their own independent IP network (as a subset of a larger optical network); the topology and architecture would be optimized for their particular Grid application needs and requirements. More importantly these networks can be reconfigured by the end-user and do not require the permission of the optical network manager.