In 2014, almost all institutions affiliated with SURFnet were migrated to SURFnet7, a process which is scheduled to be completed by the middle of February 2015 at the latest. This will be followed by the migration of the light paths and the removal of SURFnet6.
We finished migrating the regional locations before the summer and the majority of the institutions on city rings have now also been migrated to SURFnet7. According to Thijs van der Horst, SURFnet project manager, the team faced a number of technical challenges. ‘Both the network and the equipment are currently still undergoing development. As a result, we were sometimes faced with a few surprises. The migration of the regional locations was brought to a successful conclusion, but it took longer than expected. This mainly meant that we had to visit some of the locations several times.’
Little disruption for the institution
The customers in the city rings, the smaller locations, are currently being migrated. According to Van der Horst, most institutions experience little disruption as a result of the migration to SURFnet7. ‘It is similar to replacing a modem, except it is not just one family which is dependent on the modem in question but an entire location with students, researchers, lecturers and staff.’
An average of 3 hours per migration
Because of the high impact, our engineers will generally make an appointment early in the morning or at lunchtime. They will install new equipment in the rack. The services to which the institution is connected are then migrated to the new network one by one. This usually means that the client will not be able to use the service for five minutes or so. A migration takes a total of three hours from arrival through to departure. The migration of the services takes from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of services the institution is connected to. The engineers will then need to remove the old equipment from the racks and take it away with them.
A planning challenge
The challenge of planning everything properly is even greater than the technical challenge. There are many different locations, often with various interdependencies. Around three or four engineers are required for a migration and access needs to be arranged at several locations. We try to coordinate everything with all the parties concerned, particularly if there will be a brief service interruption.
In particular, the migration of dynamic and fixed light paths (which began in January 2015) requires complex planning. Both end points of a light path must be on SURFnet7 before the light paths can be migrated. Clients can switch their light path from one port to another themselves. Though this is a process that only takes a few minutes, with telephone support from SURFnet, it involves a great deal of advance planning. Both end points and SURFnet must be ready for the migration at the same time.
‘Hundreds of light paths are involved,’ says Van der Horst. ‘Like a spider’s web, they interconnect 200 locations. We want to work in a coordinated way, but each location is connected with other locations and as we aim to coordinate everything properly, you can imagine that it is quite a challenge to come up with a logical order.’ Once the migration of the light paths has been completed, the removal of SURFnet6 can start.
New options with SURFnet7
SURFnet7 offers various new options for the institutions. With SURFnet7, we can deploy our bandwidth more effectively and efficiently and offer our customers improved redundancy. For example, light paths will have even more capacity on SURFnet7. We can also offer new services, such as a Multi Service Port (MSP), which allows you to connect several services to a single port, making it possible for institutions to distribute SURFnet services internally.