With the launch of SURFnet7, SURFnet customers will be able to purchase a 100 Gigabyte connection for their institution. Thanks to the expanded bandwidth, institutions will have more options for processing large data streams.
Nikhef, the National Institute for Subatomic Physics, is mainly interested in the 100G connection due to the large quantities of data it has to process. IT architect Tristan Suerink explains, ‘We’re receiving, producing and sending out more and more data and that expansion will not end anytime soon. For instance, we work closely with CERN in Geneva. This spring, after two years of maintenance work, CERN will put its particle accelerator back into operation. We foresaw that we would need a connection faster than the 10G connection we used until recently to process all of our data. The option to switch to a 100G connection through SURFnet came just in time’.
Customer performs the switch
Nikhef had just one problem: its equipment was not compatible with a 100G connection. Thanks in part to the SURFnet-SIDN Campus Challenge, Nikhef, the CWI national research institute for mathematics and computer science, and the FOM Institute AMOLF were able to raise the funds for the right equipment. SURFnet and Nikhef spent over a month testing and installing the new 100G equipment. Since January 2015, the connection has been officially in production. The existing 10G connection has not yet been replaced with the 100G connection, but Nikhef will be able to perform the switch itself. According to Jac Kloots, SURFnet network and project manager, ‘We created a configuration enabling Nikhef to decide when to switch connections, so the switch need not get in the way of the researchers’ work’.
Same operation, but faster
Suerink compares it to switching to a much faster car: ‘The car still works in basically the same way, only it’s much faster, which makes one key difference: a pebble on the road has a much bigger impact on a car driving at 800 km/hour than it does on one doing 80 km/hour.’ The pebble analogy translates almost literally here. As the 100G connection is much more sensitive than the 10G connection, the fibre-optic connection has to be very clean. ‘If you run into problems, the first thing to do is clean the connector’, is his tip for future 100G users.
Several light paths at once
Jac Kloots predicts that most SURFnet customers will use the 100G connection as a Multi Service Port (MSP), making it possible to connect IP light paths via a single interface. The 100G bandwidth will therefore enable customers to purchase multiple light paths simultaneously on the same physical connection. ‘With an MSP, new network services are delivered very quickly’, says Kloots. ‘The institute doesn’t need to expend any physical effort anymore, it just needs a new configuration. There’s no more hassle with fibres.’