UCI’s Internet Connections Upgraded

connectivityOIT recently improved UCI’s connection to the Internet, increasing bandwidth from 6 Gbps (billion bits per second) to 20 Gbps. This upgrade enhances connections from the main campus, UCI Medical Center, and the residential network. The upgrade provides faster network access both to the research Internet and the general commodity Internet.

UCI connects to the Internet via CENIC, a regional network service provider providing Internet connections to California research and education organizations. CENIC provides two connections for the campus: CalREN-HPR and CalREN. CalREN-HPR supplies researchers with high-speed connectivity to other research networks, such as Internet2 and the Energy Science Network (ESnet). CalREN provides general Internet commodity services.

Last July, when OIT began work on the UCI Lightpath project, our CalREN-HPR network connection was upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps with a 1Gbps diversified backup link. (Lightpath is a dedicated science network funded by the National Science Foundation). This February, our CalREN general Internet connection was upgraded from five 1Gbps connections to a 10Gbps connection.

OIT is also working with CENIC to establish additional fiber infrastructure between UCI and UCLA which will enable us to upgrade our diversified backup paths from 1Gbps to higher bandwidth. Our goal is to upgrade both backup links of CalREN-HPR and CalREN to 10Gbps in the near future.

Internet2 at UCI

Faculty sometimes ask “When will I get access to Internet2?” or “How can I use Internet2?”

UCI has been benefiting from connection to Internet2 since last spring when UCI connected to CENIC’s new backbone network. You access Internet2 automatically, whenever it makes sense.

UCI’s Internet Service Provider, CENIC, manages the California Research and Education Network, CalREN. CalREN now comprises several networks to allow the right combination of reliability and performance, depending on the application. You can review CalREN’s tiered network services at http://www.cenic.com/calren/index.htm

CalREN DC is the basic, robust network. Through CalREN DC, UCI reaches California educational institutions, as well as the commercial Internet. (From UCI, there are separate pipelines to these two destinations, so that research traffic to Stanford doesn’t compete with, say, staff purchasing office supplies from staples.com).

CalREN HPR is a parallel, high-performance network which is, in a sense, a sub-component of the Internet2 network. This is because all traffic destined to or coming from Internet2 sites will traverse HPR to get to UCI and other UC campuses. CalREN uses HPR to prove new network services and protocols which, once they have become commodities, migrate to CalREN DC. For example, QOS (quality of service), a protocol for guaranteed sustained bandwidth, is being deployed and tested on the Internet2 network and on CalREN HPR.

UCI’s border router is responsible for distributing network traffic among the possible networks: the two pipes to CalREN DC, the one to CalREN HPR, as well as duplicates of those three channels to a backup network node in the event our primary connection fails. When a network application requires or will benefit from routing to Internet2, it just happens!

NACS is presently involved in a backbone upgrade project which will improve the primary campus pathways to CalREN HPR and thus to Internet2. (refer to the Fall 2004 NACS newsletter, online at http://www.nacs.uci.edu/moreinfo/ ) This upgrade will also benefit routine network activities for most users on the campus.

Network Initiative Alphabet Soup

There are several key regional and national network initiatives that are of concern and interest to UCI. The UC campuses are connected by UCnet, but are working with CENIC (the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California) to create CalREN-2, a new high speed California network.

vBNS (very high performance Backbone Network Service) is a backbone network already in production that connects research organizations awarded high-performance connections by the NSF. CalREN-2 is connected to vBNS.

UCAID (University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development) is a national collaboration of Universities and other institutions working to advance networking in higher Education via two projects, Internet2 and Abilene.

Internet2 focuses on developing a new family of advanced network applications to meet emerging academic needs. Abilene is a UCAID project to develop an advanced backbone network to connect regional networks.

Find it hard to keep all of these organizations, projects and networks straight? We have created a Web page that should help: