Higher-ed gets a new transatlantic network for collaboration

Research scientists get “ultra-fast and robust network” across the Atlantic Ocean.

network-atlantic-researchAt the Internet2 Global Summit today, the partners in ANA-200G and ESnet announced a new agreement that aims to improve the resiliency of what the partners say is the world’s fastest inter-continental network for research and education.

ANA-200G is a fully resilient 100 gigabits per second (100 Gbit/s or 100 billion bits per second) network that traverses the North Atlantic Ocean and helps support today’s most advanced, data-intensive research and education applications.

“This announcement demonstrates the determination and commitment of our partners to ensure researchers have the infrastructure they need to leverage massive data sets to create new knowledge and apply it to our most pressing problems,” said Jim Ghadbane, president and CEO, CANARIE.

This network is funded by four national research and education networks (NRENs): Internet2, NORDUnet, CANARIE and SURFnet. ESnet says it provides scientists with access to unique U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research facilities and computing resources, and is funded by DOE’s Office of Science.

The agreement announced today enables reciprocal backup between ANA-200G and ESnet’s 340 Gbit/s transoceanic infrastructure.

“As our community makes the transition to fewer but faster transatlantic links, reducing the impact of link failure is critical,” said Greg Bell, ESnet director and Berkeley Lab division director. “This mutual backup agreement is a positive development for science, and for the growing spirit of collaboration among the world’s research networks.”

(Next page: Why this collaboration is critical to supporting today’s research)

The collaboration is critical for supporting data flows from European and North American research instruments, institutions and individual researchers, say the partners. While fiber cuts in subsea cable systems are rare, if one occurs, the downtime on the cable system typically lasts for weeks, due to the complexity of repair processes and weather uncertainties.

Both ANA-200G and ESnet attained full production status at the end of 2014, and with this agreement they will function as one system in the unusual case of a major failure.

“This creates unprecedented stability at a capacity never before seen between two continent,” said the partners in a statement.

At the heart of the Advanced North Atlantic (ANA) system are Open Exchange Points that enable policy-free interconnects between autonomous networks.

ANA-200G is available to all kinds of research and education traffic, and complements the 340 Gbit/s that ESnet has deployed to support scientific missions of the DOE, including high-energy physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. The new backup arrangement between ANA and ESnet binds the infrastructures together into a resilient and redundant system.

In fewer than two years, the research and education community on both sides of the North Atlantic has collaborated to re-architect the 25 individually-procured 10 Gbit/s links to well over 540 Gbit/s (not counting a number of remaining 10Gbit/s links), capable of supporting individual data flows up to 100 Gbit/s. This would not have been possible without the advanced research and education networks—despite their different governance and funding models—working closely to achieve this goal, explained the partners.

“I am excited to see that we have jointly crossed the 500 Gbit/s mark. Today’s reciprocal backup agreement strengthens not only the network interconnect but also advances research and education, Internet2’s primary mission,” said Dave Lambert, president and CEO, Internet2.

The ambition of the ANA collaboration reaches far beyond what has been accomplished thus far. In addition to enabling congestion-free, ultra-fast connectivity between Europe and North America, the partners in this collaboration are working with other NRENs around the globe to extend similar network architectures to other continents at unprecedented speeds, through the next generation Global Network Architecture.

“Both research and education have no boundaries, and are global endeavors, and this next step in ANA shows that advanced R&E networks are able to jointly go where no-one has gone before,” said René Buch, CEO, NORDUnet.

Material from a press release was used in this report.