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Internet2 Recognized as Outstanding Partner in R&E Networking

In recognition of the growing, innovative collaboration between Internet2 and CENIC on numerous projects to renew, enrich, and extend the advanced research and education (R&E) network ecology, nationally and internationally, Internet2 is being awarded the CENIC 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for R&E Network Partner.

While the collaboration between CENIC and Internet2 has spanned many years, the work has deepened and broadened over the last year under the leadership of Howard Pfeffer, Internet2 President and CEO, and key members of his executive team.

In October 2017, CENIC, Internet2, and the Pacific Northwest Gigapop (PNWGP) renewed their collaboration to provide networking capabilities across the entire West Coast of the United States, and to continue developing new network capabilities. Using CENIC and PNWGP fiber-optic cable and Internet2’s Ciena optical system, this shared infrastructure supports the West Coast portion of Internet2’s nationwide backbone network.

The infrastructure also supports Internet2’s and CENIC’s mutual collaborators at the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), as well as other CENIC and PNWGP networks and network initiatives, including the West Coast backbone of the Pacific Wave International Exchange and the underlying infrastructure for significant portions of the core of the National Science Foundation-funded Pacific Research Platform (PRP).

CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox explained, “Science researchers depend heavily on high-speed access to large datasets, remote scientific instruments, multi-institutional collaborations, and computational resources. This significant collaboration with Internet2 enables network interconnection and transit capabilities for our US and international research partners to achieve the performance and service capabilities they require.”

Another critical research collaboration by CENIC and Internet2 is the Western Regional Network (WRN). This multi-state partnership provides advanced, robust high-speed networking for research-related uses. Other collaborators are PNWGP in Washington, the Front Range GigaPop (FRGP) in Colorado and Wyoming, the University of New Mexico on behalf of the State of New Mexico, and the University of Hawai’i. WRN serves Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Washington, and Wyoming and has a terminus and point-of-presence at StarLight Exchange Facility in Chicago.

The WRN partnership is built significantly on optical channels provisioned on Internet2’s infrastructure, and the CENIC community, particularly climate and atmospheric researchers, are highly dependent on this infrastructure to reach important resources like the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and related supercomputing facilities. At last count, over 325 climate and atmosphere researchers and 950 projects at California research institutions rely on WRN’s critical infrastructure.

The existing CENIC networks and network projects – CalREN, Pacific Wave, and WRN – have served and continue to serve CENIC associates well. As an organization, CENIC recognizes that software-defined networking, network-function visualization, automation, security monitoring and response, continuing advances in wave bandwidth, increased demand for channels, and other opportunities will continue to push the limits of our networks, personnel, systems, and processes.

To develop a deep understanding of what the current and future use cases are, what processes and policies are needed to adapt to evolutionary challenges in the networking environment, CENIC is engaging its network partners, in particular Internet2 and ESnet, to test and co-develop new network architecture, network implementation, and software architecture that will serve the research community in increasingly interdependent ways in the coming decade.

For example, the CENIC New Network Working Group (N2WG), under the leadership of CENIC’s Chief Technology Officer John Dundas, has been working closely with Internet2 and  the broader R&E community that Internet2 convenes to meet these future challenges. This is an essential, not optional, part of the path forward for CENIC and, for that matter, for all of the R&E community in the US, and Internet2 is a trusted and talented partner is this endeavor.

“Looking ahead, we see exponential traffic growth on R&E networks, mostly linear budgets to support these networks, and an increased emphasis on software development to integrate storage, security, and computational capacity as part of our network services. So it is essential that we partner with other advanced networks, like Internet2 and ESnet, to co-develop and implement new capacities,” noted Fox. “Our networks have always needed to be interoperable, but today this model extends to how we collaborate on programs, as well as shared infrastructure to keep pace with the research demands of global-scale instruments, multi-institution collaborations, and access to massive datasets.”

In a new initiative announced at the CENIC 2018 Conference, Internet2 and CENIC have agreed to pilot more direct integration of their respective global programs along with three US international exchanges: the Pacific Wave, a collaboration of CENIC and PNWGP; the New York Manhattan Landing (MAN LAN), a collaboration of Internet2 and NYSERNet (New York State Education and Research Network); and the Washington International Exchange (WIX), a collaboration of Internet2 and the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX).

This pilot program aims to further collaboration efforts that mutually support R&E partnerships both nationally and globally by improving domestic exchange point operations coordination, and providing a model for future enhancements to the domestic infrastructure that supports global collaboration. Specific projects will include dedicated interconnection between the Pacific Wave, MAN LAN, and WIX as well as deeper collaboration among the CENIC and Internet2 teams that engage with global partners.

CENIC and Internet2 have been actively working with international R&E communities in building complex linked infrastructures that enable remote access to specialized research equipment and facilities.

“Research and education networks can no longer succeed as ‘island networks’ simply connected by high-bandwidth links. In order to succeed today, R&E networks need to collaborate and build upon each other’s success,” said David Reese, CENIC’s Vice President and Managing Director of Pacific Wave. “Working together and integrating their international exchanges and programs, and as contributors to the Global Network Architecture (GNA) consortium, CENIC and Internet2 are joining a global effort to help shape the standards for how international exchanges will operate and share connectivity around the world.”

Pacific Wave and WRN, both substantial users of the Internet2/CENIC shared optical network, have served as significant portions of the backbone for the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) since its inception. As the vision for a National Research Platform (NRP) materializes, CENIC and Internet2 will collaborate on additional pilot projects to more closely integrate their infrastructures to deliver on the vision and promise of NRP. The infrastructure improvements and deeper collaborations between the two teams won’t stop there, as the two organizations work together to further enhance the infrastructure in support of international research.

“Internet2 is deeply honored to receive this award and to have the opportunity to further our collaboration with CENIC in stronger ways and for many years to come in support of research and education communities in the US and beyond,” said Howard Pfeffer, Internet2 President and CEO. “As a recognized global leader in R&E networking, CENIC has consistently brought forward some of the most innovative and effective programs that help researchers and educators excel. The partnerships we have built show great promise for even deeper collaborations between our teams in the future and we are excited to explore new opportunities together.”

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