In this clip I'm going to talk about the specialized networks that are used to support the global research and education programs. First I want to make sure that we have some common terminology. In this community we refer to R & E as shorthand for research and education. Research and education networks are often referred to as RENs. National research and education networks are often referred to as NRENs Globally the connectivity between RENs is quite complex.Research and education networks require different characteristics than the commercial internet. RENs are high speed and uncongested. They are low latency and typically operate as an open network with no filtering. Think about them as a dedicated superhighway system between universities and research institutes to speed that traffic while the commercial internet runs on standard streets and highways with lots of traffic jams. I like to think of the RENs ecosystem as a layered model with global connections at the top, regional networks next, national networks and then finally campus networks at the bottom. First let's take a look at global connections. Global connections are long expensive circuits that cross oceans to connect national and regional networks together. These circuits are not always well coordinated and often have inconsistent routing policies. Let's look at a few maps showing several different perspectives of the global research and education network connectivity. This is the U.S. view of global connectivity and the European view. I would point out that this map shows not only the global connectivity but is color-coded to show which countries have NRENs in darker color and the countries that have no operating NRENs are shown in lighter colors. And finally the Asia-Pacific view of the global connectivity. I should point out that these map show mostly the same circuits but each brings some of the views and focus of the region. For example this map doesn't even show South America or Africa. Let's now talk about regional networks. Regional networks connect the national research and education networks in a specific geographic region. Many of these regional networks have been developed with funding from the European Union. There are a number of different regional RENs. Let's look at just a few of them. This is GEANT, the Pan-European network, that serves most of the countries in Europe. This is TEIN that serves much of Asia along with Australia and New Zealand and Red CLARA that serves South and Central America. Moving down a layer let's look at national networks. National research and education networks or NRENs are networks within a specific country that serve various entities within that country. These NRENs are often started by and hosted at a prestigious university. Finally let's talk about the campus network. We must point out that no student researcher or faculty member is connected directly to a global national or regional network-- they are all served by the campus network and without a good and high-performance campus network the entire ecosystem is affected. Essentially the campus network is the foundation that the entire research and education network ecosystem is built upon. We can see a few examples of foundation failures including a catastrophic one. As we have worked around the world we find that many campus networks are not properly structured and make heavy use of firewalls and NAT devices that severely limit performance. Many campus networks are built with inexpensive and unmanaged network hardware that don't allow monitoring and management of the network. Other issues we found is that the campus network has grown over time without the thought to the overall architecture and are often built with old or fiber optic cable that's only capable of supporting a hundred megabits for any distance. We do believe that campus networks warrant significant attention and investments due to how important they are to the entire ecosystem. Remember they are the foundation that the entire ecosystem is built upon.
© Produced by Philip Smith and the Network Startup Resource Center, through the University of Oregon.
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