Internet2 transitions to 400G national infrastructure

New services, capabilities, and efficiencies for the research and education community that accelerate scientific collaboration at a global scale.

Internet2 today has completed the transition of its research and education (R&E) network traffic to the fifth-generation backbone that interconnects with 37 state and regional networks and serves every state in the U.S. The network serves a critical niche in the national broadband infrastructure, underpinning high-capacity and advanced services for the demanding needs of research, education, and global collaboration.


 


Known as the Next Generation Infrastructure, or NGI, the new network’s optical layer now supports up to 32 terabits per segment with a new generation of transponders in increments of 400-800 gigabits per second. NGI’s new packet layer provides 8-16 petabits per second of port capacity per location. NGI delivers new software-driven advanced capabilities while also creating a greener footprint, with an expected 70 percent reduction in power consumption achieved through the latest hardware advancements.


 


“The technological advancements being enabled on the Internet2 network – together with software, tools, and security resources that have been developed in collaboration with community members – are providing next-generation capabilities that propel academic and research collaborations,” said Howard Pfeffer, Internet2 president and CEO. "A comprehensive upgrade of this scale allows us to support our community’s R&E infrastructure needs now and into the future – from K-12 students with connected devices, to faculty teaching classes and lab components, to scientists collaborating with colleagues all over the country and the world.”


 


Behind those upgraded speeds and feeds – all delivered with a reduced carbon footprint – is Internet2’s next-generation hardware. That includes 12,000 miles of new single-mode ultra optical fiber across the U.S., along with power- and space-saving optical and routing equipment that is the equivalent of going from two (or more) college dorm refrigerators to a handful of medium pizza boxes at each site.


 


 


 


Increased Capacity, Simplified Workflows


Research and education network traffic – which connects K-12 schools, higher education campuses, government affiliates, and international partners – has seen exponential growth over the last decade. In 2021, Internet2 moved over two and three-quarters exabytes of data. For reference, that is equivalent to a video call that is 594,557 years long, or 27.5 million high-definition films.


 


With Internet2 NGI, the network’s increased capacity supports moving data quickly across the U.S. and globally, and removing obstacles within R&E networks that slow the progress of science.


 


Another driver for the network upgrade is the need to simplify operations that support scientific research. Today’s scientific collaborations include data movement between campuses, data repositories, on-premise computing sites, the commercial cloud, and large scientific instruments distributed around the world.


 


With Internet2 NGI’s software layer, these complexities in researchers' workflows will be increasingly simplified with an agile, flexible, and secure networking ecosystem. That ecosystem empowers researchers and campus administrators to build, monitor, and change their own extended networks from their local compute clusters to the cloud and their global collaborators and providers.


 


“This fifth-generation Internet2 network delivers new services with greatly improved efficiencies that are enabled for both IT administrators and researchers,” said Rob Vietzke, Internet2 vice president for network services. “As a community, we wanted to ensure that the new network infrastructure delivered accelerated and better experiences for our advanced users. The improvements in  speeds, capabilities, security, and resiliency all contribute to realizing faster and more capable results for scientists and educators.


 


Delivering NGI During Unprecedented Times


Bringing Internet2 NGI to life took ​​more than four years of member and community discussions, technical planning, procurement, and implementation. During the last 20 months, continuing pandemic risks added unique challenges to an already complex project as collaborators moved from the planning phase to active deployment.


 


“Community and industry partners, along with Internet2 and GlobalNOC staff displayed extraordinary patience, resilience, flexibility, and dedication to the R&E mission throughout every phase of this project, but especially these past 20 months as we adapted to the challenges of the pandemic,” added Vietzke. “For years to come, we can share stories about how the R&E community’s member-centric services, active coalitions, and abundant capacity put us in a unique position to fulfill changing needs during this extraordinary time. Together, we continued delivering on program objectives at a time when we could not gather in traditional ways.”


 


These efforts involved dozens of community contributors, Internet2 staff, GlobalNOC at Indiana University staff, as well as in collaboration with the teams at Cisco, Ciena, Lumen, and General Datatech (GDT).


 


“Ciena and Internet2 have a long history of success in building network architectures that fuel the next generation of scientific discovery,” said Steve Alexander, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ciena. “Years ago, we teamed up with Internet2 to create America’s first 100G national research and education network and we look forward to supporting this next phase of their network evolution.”


 


"This initiative is a clear example of Cisco's commitment to education and our focus on driving industry innovation," added Renee Patton, Cisco's global director of education and healthcare. "Our work with Internet2 is a model for the future of research and education globally. With innovative approaches such as this, we are working together to power inclusive exploration and learning for all."


 


“Lumen has been a key partner to Internet2 for years and provides the fiber backbone that powers their recent upgrade to Next Generation Infrastructure,” commented Sonia Ramsey, regional vice president of the Lumen state and local government and education market. “Internet2’s super high speed network is built on the Lumen optical fiber and colocation infrastructure that quickly and securely connects important research and development groups and academic institutions in more than 40 cities. These ultra-fast connections are designed to increase scientific collaboration among diverse organizations across the U.S.”

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