Lightpaths are essential to many institutions, but making them available to the users turns out to be difficult. Why? NRENs deliver lightpaths to the institution’s doorstep. From there (the last mile) the institution is on its own, and often does not know exactly how to proceed. SURFnet’s Arnout Terpstra wrote a cookbook to solve this problem, which he will present during the TERENA Networking Conference 2014 in Dublin.
Lightpaths are indispensible
Lightpaths are dedicated, secure and fast point-to-point connections independent of the regular routed Internet. They are essential to many institutions, i.e. for connecting multiple locations of a single institution trough an Optical Private Network (OPN). But lightpaths are also indispensible to many research areas, such as genomics, astronomy and physics. A lightpath offers several advantages compared to the regular Internet, making it interesting for researchers to push the boundaries of their research. Most NRENs (National Research and Education Networks), like SURFnet, offer lightpaths to their customers. Lightpaths are not only possible between two locations in the same country, but also on an international level. This requires a lot of coordination, which is luckily already taking place through for instance GÉANT.
Don’t forget the campus network
But when NRENs are talking about lightpaths, another very important part often seems to be forgotten. Because what all NRENs do is deliver a lightpath to an institution’s doorstep, right? Well that maybe the case, but I would like to argue that it is very important to include the institution itself in the discussion: so please, don’t forget the campus network! If the connection from the NREN’s Point-of-Presence (the institution’s doorstep) to the user is not completed (this part is called the last mile), the entire lightpath will obviously become useless. So what’s wrong then?
Knowledge is key!
Past experience has shown that when institutions are not familiar with lightpaths, often the integration with the campus network takes way too long or even fails completely. In retrospect, this could have been prevented when institutions were in the possession of the proper knowledge at the right time. That is why during the TERENA Networking Conference 2014 (TNC) (19 – 22 May 2014, Dublin, Ireland), I will present a cookbook lightpaths that contains all essential knowledge an institution needs to successfully implement lightpaths. This cookbook is the result of several interviews I took within different institutions that have been using lightpaths in the past few years. It will answer questions like: What are all aspects that come into play when an institution wants to make use of lightpath technology? Who is involved? How long does everything take? The cookbook will be available soon on the SURF.nl website.