REANNZ's Juniper infrastructure not only enables 100Gbps "flawlessly" but also gives them a pathway to SDN (software defined networking) and moving the infrastructure to a programmable environment, Cotter says.
"We have been playing in that space already. We have been working with global names, like Google, and last year did the world's first distributed router using SDN in our MX platform. And we are looking to continue to build on that and gain some experience with the SDN environment. We don't have a specific timeline for rolling that out, but we are building our capability," says Cotter.
The team at REANNZ is working on building SDN capability not only internally but also helping enable it in member organisations and commercial entities.
"We are in the process of connecting the different universities computer science departments with a dedicated wavelength in which they can put their own SDN switches and hardware on to test some of their SDN gear over the wide area.
"We have a couple — like Victoria University and University of Waikato — that have already connected their switches into our backbone at the moment. In the next couple of months we will move that over to a dedicated wavelength. And then we have had folks at Massey and AUT who have also expressed an interest in it as well as some commercial companies who are looking at SDN," says Cotter.
REANNZ also plans to set up an SDN test environment in Victoria University, following the GLIF conference in late September, that will host vendor kits and allow students, faculty and IT departments to get their hands on SDN equipment.
"A commercial carrier in NZ has asked us to do R&D for them in SDN. We have given them a couple of projects that we could do and we are working on the agreements right now to develop these capabilities in SDN for them. It is difficult to differentiate services when you all have very similar hardware kits. But with SDN they can have the ability to slice the network in a whole bunch of different ways and virtualise it, and we have been working on some ideas that we have for the commercial market," says Cotter.
Talking about the potential evolutionary path for REANNZ, Cotter states that this will be driven by the needs of researchers and universities.
"The cloud is becoming more important as universities move in that direction. We want to enable that as part of their supply chain and deliver services to researchers and students.
"Science and research is much more data intensive and global in its nature now. Gone are the days when scientists will sit in their offices away and alone, making the next discovery. Now science is globalised and people work in teams across dozens of countries, with thousands of participants contributing to large science projects.
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