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May 19, 2017

Why research and education networks? Demonstrating their power for big data transfers

One of the big questions often asked of R&E networking is why? Why, when commercial internet networks are so large, is there still a need for dedicated research networks?

Surely organisations can simply buy commercial off-the-shelf network connectivity, with commercial service providers now offering 10 and even 100Gbit/s network connections.

In February 2017 members of GÉANT (the trans-European research and education network) and AARNet (Australia’s national research and education network) were working on tuning the performance of flows between Europe and Australia using a 10 Gigabit path; Niall Donaghy, Richard Hughes-Jones and Mian Usman of the GÉANT Network team then decided to compare the various alternative offerings to see how R&E networking measures up to commercial alternatives.

They teamed up with AARNet Optical Engineer Tim Rayner to run long-distance tests from London to Canberra, with surprising results, demonstrating the unique friction-free capabilities of research networks that are vital for advancing research, science and technology…

Read more about the results and the testing in GÉANT Network Architect Mian Usman’s report

This testing is part of ongoing long-distance network performance testing being conducted by AARNet and its global research and education network partners for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, to ensure that the network meets the big bulk data transfer requirements from the SKA science processing facilities, such as the Pawsey supercomputing centre in Australia.