Providing High-Speed Network and Massive Bandwidth

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-09-08 Email Print this article Print
Timothy Lance, president of NYSERNet

NYSERNet, a research network, adopts a sophisticated IT infrastructure to provide next-generation Internet services that deliver speeds of 1,000 Mbps or higher.

It's no secret that universities, museums, health care facilities and research institutes place huge burdens on computer networks. They demand high-speed networks and massive bandwidth, along with robust storage and backup solutions for enormous and growing volumes of data. Keeping everything running smoothly is a daunting task that touches all corners of information technology.

For NYSERNet, a 30-year-old not-for-profit Internet service provider in New York State, it's more than an academic subject. The organization provides next-generation Internet services for more than 50 entities, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Manhattan School of Music, Columbia University, Cornell University, Hofstra University and IBM's non-commercial research arm. The IP-based network relies on long-haul dark fiber or lit (leave in time) GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) services to deliver speeds of 1,000 Mbps or higher.

At the heart of the initiative: The network provider has established a long-term relationship with interconnectivity and data center provider Telx to build and manage an IT infrastructure that supports Internet2 capabilities, along with the required bandwidth for broadcast-quality video, data sharing and backups.

"A really critical component for what we do was establishing end-to-end fiber that runs at one gigabit per second," says Timothy Lance, president of NYSERNet. "We have now expanded the pipe to 10 gigabits to provide additional capabilities. We are able to support scientific experiments and other projects that generate enormous volumes of data, including through supercomputers."

In addition, NYSERNet, which operates a 4,000-square-foot commercial grade data center, has introduced native IPv6 multicast networks—something that is increasingly critical for research institutes overseas.

"In some cases, outside the U.S., there is no IPv4 space left, and organizations find that they are extremely restricted," Lance points out. "The situation has become critical in some cases."

Cost-Effective Scalable Data

Finally, NYSERNet has made it possible for users to embrace more robust initiatives through cost-effective scalable data—something that is paramount for researchers tackling highly complex genome projects and other initiatives with enormous data sets. One of the keys to staying at the leading edge, he says, is the ongoing ability of Telx to adapt to the type of infrastructure required for research and other high-end applications.

NYSERNet also has built in powerful business continuity capabilities. During Hurricane Sandy, for instance, the organization operated on a generator for six days, but it managed to keep everything running without interruption by switching over to another facility in Brookhaven in the middle of the storm.

The network provider also has mirroring and other hardware redundancies in place, and it relies on continual backups so that instant switchover capability exists. "There is a great deal of engineering that has gone into building world-class infrastructure and capabilities," Lance reports.

The network will continue to evolve, as today's fast-changing business and IT environment presents enormous challenges—particularly as data outpaces infrastructure, he says.

"It's clear that in 24 months, the technologies will have changed considerably because data sets are growing so rapidly," Lance explains. "We are actively examining possibilities and alternatives as they emerge. Our mission is to ensure that as technology and research move forward, we are in a good position to provide the most advanced capabilities possible."

 Photo of Timothy Lance, president of NYSERNet, courtesy of NYSERNet.

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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