It is important to understand that the new REANNZ Network is not just a technically focused project. While the design and procurement aspects of the physical network are critical there are other equally important considerations. Each of these is briefly outlined below.
1) Stakeholder Strategic Challenge
Achieving widespread support and excitement for the new network will require user engagement at a number of levels. It is vital to engage with senior managers and research folk within the member organisations so that balanced debate can take place regarding the significant opportunity that the REANNZ Network will provide to member organisations.
Equally important are wider stakeholders. The advanced networking environment is changing rapidly in New Zealand. The significant government stimulus through the UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband) and RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative) will potentially provide new options for both REANNZ and its members (particularly regarding access circuit options).
2) Organisational and User Enablement
There are significant hurdles that organisations need to meet in order to use an advanced network to its full potential. A fast network is only of value if all points in the chain are fast.
Historically many organisations have failed to recognise the need to update internal infrastructure to be able to use the network to its full potential. So, while coping with 10Gb/s is a current issue, in the future with 40 Gb/s and100 Gb/s bandwidths these issues become far more significant.
Associated with maximising the use of high-speed networks within organisations is consideration of their Corporate IT architectures. Typically organisations have a “front-door” that is protected by comprehensive firewalls. These are often significant barriers to the “connectedness” of research activities.
Even if the organisational infrastructure is up to the task at the individual researcher level there are often barriers to better use of the network. Many of these relate to lack of knowledge of just what can be accomplished using an advanced network.
REANNZ recognises the issues involved for the organisations and their researchers and while we would not expect to solve every researcher’s individual network issue, the new REANNZ Network project will provide advice and options to the members on how these can be addressed in a manner that is compatible with the network’s evolution and so reduce the barriers to a better experience for all.
3) Architectural Design, Procurement and Implementation
This is a significant activity within the new REANNZ Network project. In essence the challenge is to take the network from a services basis (WAN service provided by FX Networks) to REANNZ managing its own transport layer based on dark fibre ownership. Achieving independence from the carrier services layer means that REANNZ has the ability to scale and provision network bandwidth in a sustainable manner in the future. This does bring with it some increased responsibility for some additional administrative and management functions.
Within this sub-project there are three key activities:
- Commercial – purchase / lease of fibre and circuits with emphasis on minimising the long-term cost curve.
- Technical – developing a set of design principles and components that direct how the network should be built and grow over time. Key technical considerations will include; topology, resilience, international connections, technology trends, fibre cable performance characteristics, mechanisms for on-demand provisioning, maintenance of existing IP based services etc. Significant account will be taken of international best practice in this field. A number of international NREN’s are undertaking similar projects and contact is being established with these to ensure that new REANNZ Network is able to leverage from their experience.
- Operations and Maintenance – REANNZ will need to establish a new Transport Service Manager with the skills to maintain and operate the new transport layer in the same way Dimension Data is providing services for the REANNZ Shared IP service.
You can view the REANNZ Network architecture plan here (pdf, 1.9MB).