Internet2, Cisco team to advance national research and education network

Oct. 13, 2020
Cisco's 'Internet for the Future' routers and software will deliver key services for the Internet2 nationwide research and education network.
Internet2
Internet2 Logo 5f85f48508a44

Internet2 on Oct. 7 announced a strategic alliance with Cisco to deliver advanced networking capabilities and software solutions across the U.S. research and education (R&E) infrastructure that enables scientific collaboration at a global scale.

The new agreement between the two organizations focuses on delivering a national R&E network with increased capacity incorporating 400 gigabits per second bandwidth, on-demand cloud-connectivity, and a reduced carbon footprint that will remove 6681 metric tons a year of carbon from the environment. The agreement also includes collaborative opportunities for Internet2 and Cisco to support research activities and multi-domain service orchestration with campus and regional partners.

Internet2 says Cisco's selection in the project was the result of a rigorous proposal process that was reviewed by networking experts from the Internet2 community and organization, and was part of the Internet2 Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) program, which focuses on supporting the data intensive researcher, enabling campuses to connect to the cloud, delivering edge-to-edge performance, and creating a software enabled environment.

"Research and education networks have never been more critical than they are today, and the selection of Cisco is a very exciting and critical milestone for the R&E community," said Howard Pfeffer, president and CEO, Internet2. Pfeffer added, "Cisco is supporting the delivery of a software-driven infrastructure that enables rapid deployment of new services and tight integration with applications and scientific workflows on the campus and in the cloud, both of which are essential to our nation's future. Cisco has also made substantial commitments not only to Internet2, but to the broader R&E community, by pledging ecosystem-wide support that helps us bridge campus, regional, national, and international needs."

For the project, Internet2 will deploy Cisco's latest 8200 series routing platform powered by Cisco Silicon One ASICs, running the company's IOS XR7 and Network Services Orchestration (NSO) software as part of the packet infrastructure upgrade to its national backbone. With some intercity routes topping 1.2 terabits per second, Internet2's network infrastructure between the East and West coasts will feature multiple contiguous routes equipped with 800 gigabits per second of bandwidth. This will provide abundant headroom to support big data research across disciplines, including the Large Hadron Collider, infectious disease research among academic medical centers, and access to global genomics databases.

The upgraded Internet2 network, which connects U.S. universities and government agencies, and supports community anchor institutions, will feature software interfaces and orchestration capabilities that enable an edge-to-edge R&E ecosystem, ultimately providing a seamless user experience for both researchers and campus administrators. Programmability for on-demand, dedicated and secure cloud connectivity is one example of the NGI capabilities being planned with the end-user in mind.

Specifically in the collaboration, Cisco 8201 and 8202 routers will be deployed in 48 locations across the country utilizing between 1 and 4 devices per location. A typical node which connects national backbone resources with regional networks has between 24 and 96 400G network access ports. Cisco NSO will become the basis for an extensible network-wide automation platform that will immediately deliver Internet2 services and can eventually support campus to regional to national to cloud service orchestration. The system will be interconnected using native 400G wavelengths on Internet2's optical network to deliver Nx400G capacity between cities.

A move to segment routing with multiprotocol label switching (SR-MPLS) and Ethernet virtual private network (EVPN) will allow researcher applications to eventually claim up to an entire 400G link for a particular application while other network uses are dynamically moved to other paths. As part of the agreement, Cisco is also offering incentive programs for regional networks and campuses to adopt similar technologies for their own network upgrades. While delivering 4 to 12 times more capacity across the national footprint, the new Cisco solution is expected to require 668 metric tons less power and cooling.

"Now more than ever, we believe that technology can be used for good to build a more inclusive future for us all," said Cisco's senior vice president of U.S. Public Sector Nick Michaelides. "Innovation is in Cisco's DNA and we are proud to stand with and support leading researchers by providing a technological backbone that will help them connect, share data, collaborate and accelerate all their great work. Internet2 members are some of the brightest minds in the world, working to solve the biggest problems on the planet and we're honored to help them connect and work together to help build that more inclusive world we envision."

For more information, visit www.internet2.edu.

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