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GEANT2 link-up complete

Europe’s digital infrastructure recently received a boost with the announcement that a new converged optical-data network has been successfully brought online. The new network, linking Europe’s educational and research networks, will enable scientists to communicate and share data with maximum reliability and protection. High speed core links are designed to carry up to 40 connections of 10Gb/s each, allowing speedier transmission of information, further integrating the European research community.

The new network was deployed by Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe Ltd, or DANTE, within the context of the GEANT2 project, which is co-funded by the European Union under the Research Framework Programmes. DANTE is a not-for-profit organisation established in 1993 charged with building and operating GEANT2 and its predecessors. GEANT2 is the largest-ever European data communications network designed specifically for research and educational institutions. It was launched in 2004 with the aim of connecting approximately 3,500 scientific sites in 34 European countries to facilitate collaborative research. The network offers high-speed services, including new gigabit Ethernet services, as well as supporting grid computing applications for the scientific community.

The recently unveiled network is based on an optical platform developed by the French telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent. It deploys special light managers from Alcatel-Lucent to exploit its fibre-optic routes and the dedicated service switches to switch high bandwidth circuits at its points of presence (POPs). The network is operated by the GEANT2 Network Operation Centre (NOC) in Paris, France. DANTE General Manager Dr Hans Döbbeling discussed the benefits the new network will bring to European research. “The optical platform allows the national research and education networks collaborating within GEANT2 to flexibly offer pan-European circuits and even entire optical private networks in addition to the conventional Internet packet-switching service.”

Besides the data service, the GEANT2 project is developing monitoring and management procedures to enhance inter-domain operations between the European backbone and its partners, the National Research and Education networks. Multi-domain monitoring and provisioning, pan-European network security, and access roaming are being developed into operational services.

GEANT2's predecessor, GEANT, began in 2000 with the ultimate goal of contributing to a single worldwide network to facilitate scientific cooperation. GEANT2 currently has multi-gigabit links to North America and Japan, as well as direct connections to India and China. It is also connected to other world regions through links to other research networking projects managed by DANTE: the Mediterranean through the EUMEDCONNECT project; Latin America through the ALICE project; and the Asia-Pacific region via TEIN2.

The GEANT2 project began in 2004 and is expected to run for four years. The network roll-out began in 2005. One by one new links have replaced the existing GEANT links. The roll-out is now being completed with the connection between Ljubljana and Vienna. The gradual transition to more cost-effective and higher capacity routes has been transparent to the service end users. Two large private optical networks are being set up simultaneously, one enabling high energy physicists to share data in the analysis of the CERN LHC experiments, the other interconnecting Europe’s high performance numerical computing centres participating in the DEISA project.

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