AARNet replaces eight-year old AARNet3 network

AARNet4 features a 100 gigabyte backbone stretching from Perth to Brisbane

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) has rolled out AARNet4 across Australia to meet demands from university researchers who require 10 Gigabits per second Internet access.

AARNet4 is the successor to the third-generation network launched eight years ago. Since that time, traffic on the network has doubled every two years due to growth in the number of users and the size of datasets created by advanced research applications, according to Juniper. AARNet began rolling out AARNet4 in November 2013.

AARNet network architect David Wilde told Computerworld Australia that it had “been impressed” with the longevity of the Juniper routers that formed the core of AARNet3.

“We experience 50 per cent year-on-year growth of traffic and our customers want 10Gbps Internet access. The AARNet3 network was getting congested and we didn’t want to limit the academic researchers in anyway,” he said.

“The Juniper MX Series 3D Universal Edge routers that we purchased for AARNet4 were implemented in mid-2014. It’s an ongoing project and we still have some additional routers to roll out over the coming six months.”

The routers support multiple 100 Gbps Ethernet (GbE) links. They are expected to provide lower network latency than the current network and support multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to increase network resiliency, tighten network traffic control and support virtual private networks (VPNs).

AARNet4 has a 100 gigabyte backbone stretching from Perth to Brisbane, which is used by 38 Australian universities and CSIRO.

For example, researchers from CSIRO, Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANZ) and Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) in the United States are using AARNet4 for software defined networking (SDN) project.

“The intention is to be able to build better Internet exchange points. Today, Internet exchange points are typically a router or a switch and they `talk’ to the Internet service providers [ISPs] that connect into that [Internet] exchange point,” said Wilde.

“There is not necessarily a lot of intelligence involved with that. The hope is that by enabling some SDN capabilities, there will be a lot more control of traffic flows and put more features into the exchange points.”

Researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Experimental Particle Physics are using AARNet4 to access large amounts of data being generated by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project.

The LHC tries to simulate what happened in the first microsecond of the Big Bang when the universe was formed. LHC researchers are looking at the data to see what atoms are made up of.

Wilde said the LHC is currently offline for upgrading, but once it comes back online in late 2014 it will be generating even more data sets.

“We’ve recently upgraded our international links to the US to 40Gbps. Potentially, the physicists at the University of Melbourne will be able to access that data at speeds greater than 10Gbps,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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Tags large hadron colliderAARNet4AARNet (Australia’s Academic and Research Network)juniper networks

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