25, No. 14, Feb. 2, 2006
projects to improve computer connection speeds
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
Two projects under
way at Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services will
improve connection speeds for users of the UI computer network and support
bandwidth-intensive research initiatives.
CITES staff members are replacing the current network core equipment
for UIUCnet, the computer network at the Urbana campus, with Foundry
Network’s NetIron 40G family of products. Foundry Networks is
a provider of high-performance computing components. The basis of the
new network core platform will be six NetIron 40G IPV4/IPV6 10-gigabit
service provider routers, each of which will support 1-gigabit-per-second
connections to up to 200 buildings and 10-Gbps connections to six buildings.
The same type of equipment recently was used to set an Internet2 land-speed
record of 167.4 petabit-meters per second, and maintained a 5.58-Gbps
transfer rate over 30,000 kilometers of trans-oceanic fiber optic cable.
Since the current network core supports 1-Gbps connections, “the
new network core will provide a ten-fold increase in network performance
while improving capacity, manageability and reliability of UIUCnet,”
said Charley Kline, campus network architect. “The 40G platform
also supports network technologies, such as Internet Protocol Version
6 (IPv6) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), which will be deployed
in the near future to further advance the technology of the campus network.”
IPv6 and MPLS are Internet infrastructure components that are being
developed to address problems related to routing, speed, quality-of
-service management and traffic engineering faced by networks under
the current infrastructure as a result of the exponential growth in
the volume of Internet traffic and deployment of new technologies such
as voice and multimedia services.
Although deployment of IPv6 and MPLS are a year or two away, the network
core on UIUCnet will be in place to support those technologies when
they are available, Kline said.
The new network core also will support high-speed access to research
networks such as Internet2 and National Lambda Rail. Internet2 is a
research and development consortium consisting of more than 200 U.S.
universities, including the UI, that are working in partnership with
industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications
and technologies. National Lambda Rail is a privately funded, advanced
optical network developed by a consortium of private-sector companies
and U.S. research universities, including the Committee on Institutional
Cooperation, a consortium that includes the UI, the University of Chicago
and the other members of the Big Ten Conference.
CITES staff members hope to have the new network core platform substantially
implemented over spring break, March 18 through March 26, with full
implementation expected by the end of the spring semester. Network administrators
in units throughout campus will be notified when their units are being
switched to the new equipment, which will probably be done during weekends
or early morning hours to minimize service disruptions, which are unlikely
to affect network users. Researchers who use high-performance computing
will probably be the first to notice the network’s improved speed.
CITES staff members also are planning the implementation of a fiber
optic ring that will link the three UI campuses, facilitating connections
in excess of 10 Gbps and improving access to resources such as Internet2
and National Lambda Rail. Under a 20-year, $4.8 million agreement, the
UI will lease the fiber-optic technology from McLeodUSA and WilTel Communications.
Pending approval of vendor contracts at the UI Board of Trustees’
March meeting, CITES staff members hope to implement the dark-fiber
ring in mid- to late summer, although it won’t be used for production
until a few months later, said Mike Gardner, associate director at CITES.
The UI Board of Trustees approved the purchases of the network core
equipment and the lease for the dark-fiber ring at the board’s