Another Record-Breaking Month and Planning for Continued Growth of Data-Intensive Research

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By Rob Vietzke, Internet2 Vice President, Network Services

After hitting a new record of 207+ petabytes of data moved in October, Internet2 continues to see continuous and substantial growth across all types of data it carries for the Research and Education Community. (We’re on track to move close to an amazing 2 exabytes of data this year.)

The trendlines certainly reflect both the growth in traditional campus-to-campus collaboration, but also the increasing importance of cloud connectivity as more research and academic enterprise tasks leverage cloud resources. For Internet2 capacity planners, the trend is exciting, but also increases our need to be vigilant in planning to stay ahead of the trend.

The current Next Generation Infrastructure program has one part of the solution with our move to newer, more efficient electronics that help us grow capacity more quickly at lower costs. For example, new routers that we are putting in place in Ashburn and Chicago offer us much greater density of 100G ports in less rented space, and also have the advantage of ports costs that are 1/6 of the cost of the ports on the gear they replace. An added benefit is that the 100G optics we can deploy now use 1/10 of the power than the 100G optics we purchased in 2011 (when we moved only 120 petabytes per year). The result: new gear lets us reinvest savings from power, colocation space and maintenance costs back into capacity expansion.

Even with upgrades like those in progress in Chicago and Ashburn, finding opportunities to meet capacity growth needs without dramatically growing our expenses is driving us to look more deeply at efficient hardware, as well as the way we deploy that hardware. Rethinking long-standing practices of well intentioned “future proofing” holds the promise of freeing up additional resources for reinvestment.

By example, it has been good practice to install a larger chassis during a refresh with room for ample future growth over a 5-8 year period. However today we are considering the cost of those empty slots for the ensuing years of the equipment’s life, the space they consume, and the electricity used by bigger fans. Based on the premise that hardware is getting more efficient more rapidly, and the idea that we can be more agile in doing timely upgrades, we now are looking at the benefits of using smaller gear that is more tightly designed to each need.

If the trend that brought us to 2 Exabytes of traffic continues, the community will see another doubling of traffic 24-30 months. We’ll need all of these ideas (and more) to keep up. 

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