SURFnet7 and 100Gbit/s: an update
The end of the GigaPort3 programme is getting closer. In that programme, SURFnet has been working since 2009 to greatly improve the network facilities for education and research in the Netherlands and elsewhere. One of the main objectives of the project is to deliver the Next Generation Ethernet or Carrier Ethernet based on SURFnet7. The main aim was originally to make use more accessible and efficient. In a few cases, a tailor-made 100 Gigabit per second (Gbit/s) connection was set up, for example to access CERN in Geneva. In the course of the project, however, it turned out that the possibilities for “standard” customer connections at a rate of 100 Gbit/s were coming within reach. And SURFnet wouldn’t be SURFnet if it hadn’t done everything possible to create these for its target group!. The bar for SURFnet7 was set high: an extremely dynamic Carrier Ethernet Network with customer connections at 100 Gbit/s!
But setting the bar high also means a number of challenges. During the tendering procedure for the new network, SURFnet posed a realistic and well thought-out challenge for providers to submit tenders including 100 Gbit/s as an option. Ciena emerged as the winner from the final set of tenders and thus became the provider of the network equipment. A start was then made on creating a top-class international network offering the best of two worlds: both the maximum dynamism in network services and also the maximum amount of bandwidth for the connected institutions.
By selecting Ciena, SURFnet was not going for the easiest technological solution. The fact that rolling out a 100 Gbit/s system isn’t easy already became apparent when the first designs for the network were drawn up in combination with Ciena’s roadmaps. The Ciena equipment uses PBB-TE technology. This was the first technology available on the market that made it possible to construct network connections along a fixed route. This preserves the properties of lightpaths and also makes use of the efficiency of Carrier Ethernet. Meanwhile, a new and broadly similar standard is developing, MPLS-TP. Given that Ciena – like SURFnet – considers innovation to be extremely important, it is now focussing on offering 100 Gbit/s in combination with MPLS-TP-based equipment. The standards for this technology have not yet become fully clear, however, and the necessary products are not yet available for constructing SURFnet7. After consulting SURFnet, Ciena therefore decided to continue to support PPB-TE at 100 Gbit/s, alongside MPLS-TP. This means that this technology can be rolled out after all for SURFnet7, although with a certain delay.
The first 40 & 100 Gbit/s customer connections will be delivered in mid-2013 for Groningen University, the University of Twente, and the University of Amsterdam. Initially, this will be via a separately constructed network, but starting in 2014 100 Gbit/s will be fully integrated into the main cores of the new SURFnet7 network, also as a Multi-service Port (MSP). SURFnet is therefore the world’s first NREN to combine lightpath functionality (both static and on demand) with Internet connectivity! It has therefore completely achieved its aim of creating a low-threshold, efficient, and superfast network.
SURFnet is now also working on the international connections via NetherLight at 40 and 100 Gbit/s. Besides the existing connections to Geneva and Copenhagen, London, Poznań and New York will also be made accessible at these speeds. SURFnet is working towards that aim together with NORDUnet, Internet2, PSNC, ESnet, CANARIE, and DANTE. We hope to be able to demonstrate the 100 Gbit/s connections at the TERENA Networking Conference. Make sure you’re there!