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21 April, 2017

Global network for research and education reaches major milestone

North Atlantic network collaboration announces deployment of record-breaking 740 Gbps links, building the foundation for Global Network Architecture for research and education.

Research and education networks worldwide, including Australia’s national research and education network AARNet, are participating in the Global Network Architecture (GNA) initiative.

Scientists around the world are increasingly collaborating to address global issues such as clean energy, medicine and protecting the environment. Their ability to share and analyse data is essential for advancing research, and as the size of datasets grows, the need for high-speed global network connectivity becomes ever more critical.

The Atlantic collaboration

That is why research and education (R&E) networks in Europe and North America have joined forces to find new ways to help facilitate and enable scientific collaboration. Between them, the R&E networks on the two continents have now deployed links providing a total bandwidth of 740 gigabits per second (Gbit/s).

This record-breaking connectivity and resilience is the work of the Advanced North Atlantic (ANA) Collaboration. Started in 2013, ANA consists of six leading R&E networks: CANARIE (Canada), ESnet (USA), GÉANT (Europe), Internet2 (USA), NORDUnet (European Nordics), and SURFnet (The Netherlands).

Adding robust resiliency to keep research data moving

Over the past three years, this partnership has continued to add bandwidth and resilience across the North Atlantic. The most recent addition by the NEAAR Project, coordinated by Indiana University (USA) and funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), adds a 100 Gbit/s connection between exchange points in New York City and London.

With the addition of NEAAR’s 100 Gbit/s link, the total amount of general purpose R&E connectivity across the North Atlantic Ocean now is at 400 Gbit/s. Additionally, ESnet operates 340 Gbit/s of bandwidth via four distinct circuits across the North Atlantic Ocean. To provide robust resilience to science, research and education traffic, the partners also act as each other’s back-ups in case of major outages or lengthy fibre cuts, which are two common concerns with managing transoceanic high-speed cable systems.

Securing future connectivity – The Global Network Architecture

While the transatlantic high-speed links develop, and expand, a group of network specialists from R&E networking organizations and Exchange Points operators from around the world are also collaborating to ensure researchers see the end-to-end performance results their science requires not just locally but globally.

To achieve this, senior R&E Network architects from around the world, including Warrick Mitchell and David Wilde from AARNet, have developed a set of global principles and technical guidelines for collaboration, as well as sharing costs and aligning investments.

This work – under the umbrella of the Global Network Architecture (GNA) initiative – is defining a reference architecture and creating a roadmap for both national and regional research & education networks to more seamlessly support research on an end-to-end basis. Ultimately, this effort will establish a more capable, predictable and resilient next-generation global interconnect for research and education.

Extending the GNA into Asia-Pacific

The capacity AARNet has secured on the recently announced INDIGO subsea cable system between Singapore and Australia will be integrated into the global R&E network community using GNA principles. This capacity will be delivered through spectrum sharing, a distinguishing feature of this cable system which will support the significant for increase in research collaboration intensity between Australia and Asia for decades to come. The INDIGO consortium members are AARNet, Google, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, SubPartners, and Telstra.

View the original North Atlantic Collaboration media release

View a timeline of the planned growth of the Global Network Architecture

Find out more about the Global Network Architecture initiative

For an in-depth look into the world of R&E networks, please go the international blog In The Field, showcasing stories from around the world about people and projects making a difference connected by research and education networks.

Image: Subsea cable-laying ship. Photo courtesy of Alcatel Submarine Networks.