Ann Arbor’s Internet2 Upgrades Infrastructure for Education and Research

Internet2, a nonprofit and member-driven advanced technology community headquartered in Ann Arbor, today announced it has completed the transition of its research and education (R&E) network traffic to the fifth-generation backbone.
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Laying the cable for fast internet
Ann Arbor’s Internet2 has completed the transition to its fifth-generation infrastructure to increase speed and capacity for its research and education network traffic. // Stock Photo

Internet2, a nonprofit and member-driven advanced technology community headquartered in Ann Arbor, today announced it has completed the transition of its research and education (R&E) network traffic to the fifth-generation backbone.

The platform interconnects with 37 state and regional networks serving every U.S. state.

The network serves a critical niche in the national broadband infrastructure, underpinning high-capacity and advanced services for the needs of research, education, and global collaboration. Known as the Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI), it operates faster with increased capacity and is expected to reduce power consumption by approximately 70 percent.

“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,” says Howard Pfeffer, president and CEO of Internet2.

“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.”

The physical upgrades include 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.

Besides improved collaboration, another reason 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-premises 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 a 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.

The upgrades involved dozens of community contributors, Internet2 staff, GlobalNOC at Indiana University staff, as well as collaboration with the teams at CiscoCiena, Lumen, and General Datatech (GDT).

“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,” says Rob Vietzke, vice president for network services at Internet2.

“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.”

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