Coastal Path Upgrades Represent a Milestone in Infrastructure Sharing Between CENIC and Internet2

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By Chris Wilkinson, Internet2 Director of Network Planning and Architecture, Co-authored by Sana Bellamine, CENIC

Last week, CENIC announced that the coastal network path from Los Angeles to Sunnyvale can now carry flexible-grid wavelengths of 400 gigabits and beyond on each of its 40-plus channels. CENIC’s CEO, Louis Fox said, “These upgrades provide CENIC’s members a more robust and efficient network on which to conduct data-intensive research, support teaching and learning, provide cutting-edge medical care, and enhance community engagement.” The completion of the upgrade is important for a second reason, however. It represents a milestone in infrastructure sharing between CENIC and Internet2 as both networks move to higher-bandwidth technologies and seek to reduce both cost and environmental impact.
A significant factor in the success of CENIC’s upgrade is the use of Internet2’s separate network along the same path for backup capacity during their upgrade. CENIC and Internet2 have had an agreement for almost a decade to share an “express” optical system between Los Angeles and Sunnyvale that utilizes CENIC’s fiber and Internet2’s equipment and operations on a similar coastal path. During its upgrade, CENIC used its capacity on that shared path to maintain backbone integrity while their own optical network was upgraded to the new technology. This was a great win for CENIC’s members as the network upgrade had less impact on their daily routines. This creative approach to leveraging the Internet2 network is a great example of how research and education networks can leverage each other’s infrastructure for large projects and consequently reduce costs associated with infrastructure upgrades.
The next phase for both Internet2 and CENIC is even more exciting. With CENIC’s new upgraded system, Internet2 will be able to move its capacity on to CENIC’s system between Los Angeles and Sunnyvale and can defer upgrading its network on that path. Both of these steps are representative of the community’s intent to share infrastructure in places where it makes sense for Internet2 and regional collaborators.
In addition to providing new 400G backbone links to the Internet2 network, the approach will reduce expenses for Internet2 and CENIC and be a part of the overall carbon footprint reduction that Internet2’s new network will deliver. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

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