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AARNet CEO Chris Hancock AM
16 June, 2016

CEO’s Report June 2016

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the year. The AARNet team has been actively engaging with the research and education community to ensure that we provide the infrastructure to support collaboration nationally and internationally into the future.

We are firmly focused on meeting the changing needs of Australia’s universities and research organisations and our other customers, including a growing number of K-12 schools and GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums).

– Chris Hancock, CEO AARNet

Network Performance & Traffic Report

Architecture & Applications

AARNet4 Migration

The migration of shareholder customers onto the AARNet4 backbone is on track for completion by the end of 2016. The take-up of AARNet4 VPN (Layer 2 and Layer 3 virtual private network) connectivity services continues to accelerate.

SDN Testbed

The AARNet SDN testbed is proving to be a valuable asset in global collaborations. Software Defined Network, or SDN, is an emerging new technology, focused on teasing apart the data forwarding function of a piece of network equipment from its path calculation function, taking advantage of commodity network hardware for the former and cheap virtualised compute for the latter. The aim is to provide greater network flexibility at a lower cost.

The SDN testbed now consists of four network switches, in Sydney, Melbourne, Seattle and Perth. These have been configured with an open-source networking application CASTOR, developed by the ANZ SDN Alliance co-founded with CSIRO and UNSW and other sponsors. This enables researchers at the ten participating institutions (CSIRO, UNSW, Swinburne, Adelaide, UTS, Macquarie, RMIT, UQ, Wollongong and ANU) to collaborate with each other and international peers.

The SDN testbed has been showcased at a number of international events in recent months, including the Internet2 Global Summit in Chicago USA, the ONF (Open Networking Foundation) AppFest in New Hampshire USA, as well as an ANZSDN Hackathon hosted in Australia by CSIRO Marsfield in April. AARNet staff will be presenting an SDN workshop at QUESTnet2016 conference on 5 July.

Science DMZ

AARNet’s development of a Science DMZ offering continues to progress, as part of a broader focus on data access and data movement in the eResearch environment. Science DMZ is a network architecture, originally developed by ESNet in the USA, aimed at accelerating the transfer of big datasets into and out of campus networks.

The development of a set of inexpensive performance measurement appliances is also close to completion, based on the open-source “PerfSONAR” software toolkit. This will provide institutions with the ability to identify and localise any performance issues relating to big data transfers These devices will be demonstrated on 5 July at QUESTnet 2016 during a Science DMZ workshop.

Zoom Videoconferencing

Zoom continues to grow, passing 1.34 million call minutes per month in March 2016, meaning that total call minutes have tripled since the start of 2016. The number of participants passed 31,000 in March, tripling since the start of the year.


CloudStor usage continues to grow at an annual rate of over 200%, climbing to 21,000 active CloudStor accounts to date. Further effort is being put into developing CloudStor and its applications to support several research projects in response to requests by shareholder institutions.

Eduroam in Asia

The EC (European Commission) and TEIN (Trans-Eurasian Information Network)- funded project to expand eduroam in the Asia Pacific region is progressing well. AARNet recently conducted a workshop in Sri Lanka with LANKA, the Sri Lankan NREN, attended by over 30 Sri Lankan institutions. Servers to support the eduroam service in the beneficiary countries – Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan – have been installed and migrated from the European to the Asia Pacific eduroam federation. We expect completion of this project in June, with final reports completed by end of August. The project also has some benefit for existing eduroam operators (including AARNet) through the development of standardised platforms and administrative and monitoring systems.

Infrastructure Development Projects

Sunshine Backbone: Securing Research Capacity in Queensland and NAUDIT Sydney Basin Network Project – Pen 3 Westmead to Penrith via Hawkesbury are in final stages of completion.

Australian Lightwave Infrastructure Research Testbed (ALIRT)

AARNet is working with research labs for Monash University, Melbourne University and RMIT to provide a national facility for fibre optic transmission research. This involves using AARNet fibre and its DWDM backbone to provide a large “real world” laboratory for fundamental lightwave research. AARNet engineers will work with lab researchers on some of AARNet’s own network engineering challenges in a hope to improve capacity and performance of our national network.


The eResearch team has commenced a series of engagements with all universities seeking to identify if there are any impediments within their campus network infrastructure to researchers achieving high throughput data transfers. Based on experiences overseas, and strong local anecdotal evidence, there are numerous known issues that might lower a researcher’s expectations of what the campus+AARNet network can deliver. This work seeks to identify any bottlenecks on the campus, and resolve them in partnership with the institution if there are. If you interested in this activity, contact

Government Relations

The eResearch Framework commissioned by The Department of Education, Research Infrastructure, was completed on 9 May, proposing that future investments be focused on “four enduring components of eResearch infrastructure” namely:

National Computational Facilities

This component deploys computational power to extend the boundaries of inquiry. Implemented as large facilities.

Australian Research Data System

This component connects and uses data assets to enable new kinds of research. Implemented as a co-operative system.

Research Community Platforms

This component creates the eResearch applications that harness innovative research methods, advanced instruments and data holdings. Implemented as infrastructure enhancement.

Identity and Connectivity Operators

This component establishes the frictionless connectivity that enables greater collaboration. Implemented as service providers.

The framework is intended to inform future government investments in eResearch, particularly through the NCRIS, and within the context of the Research Infrastructure Roadmap (RIR). The RIR is being led by the Chief Scientist, supported by an expert working group, and will identify Australia’s priority research infrastructure needs over the next five to ten years. Capability Expert Teams have been appointed to examine six areas, namely health, physics, environment, culture, national security and underpinning research. AARNet naturally aligns to the underpinning research infrastructure capability, and participated in an initial RIR workshop held in Melbourne on 26th May.

Data Retention

The Attorney-General’s Department has not yet reached a determination on how funds will be distributed from the $128.4M Data Retention Industry Grants Program to assist telecommunications service providers, such as AARNet to meet their data retention obligations. With the calling of the federal election, this process will now have to be concluded after 2 July.

Enterprise Services

The Enterprise Services’ (ES) team continues to bid for and win consulting assignments, with the majority of work in the areas of networking and more recently in the new area of managed services. A new consultant has joined the team with strong skills in networks (wired and wireless) and network security devices such as firewalls and a background in supporting schools and TAFEs.

Assignments for Q2 include:

  • The completion of Unified Communication related work across a number of customers. This work has been a combination of technical specialist, project management and zoom “assist” related works.
  • Flow on work to implement network blueprint designs in key technical areas related to the local and wide area networks of both non-shareholder and shareholder customers.
  • Assistance to non-shareholder research and TAFE customers to assist with “on boarding” to AARNet and assisting with the management of their network core and edge infrastructure under pre-paid engineering hours’ service arrangements.

Enterprise Services is developing Managed Network Services to provide services to customers beyond monitoring and alerting, including troubleshooting, network configuration, change management and supplier management and escalation.