Internet2's network to get a facelift

Internet2's network is growing up. That was one of the key topics discussed Tuesday at the group's Spring Member Meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

The research group is phasing out its Abilene network after about seven years of service with a big backbone that will support 10 10Gbps Lambdas, says Douglas Van Houweling, president and CEO of Internet2.

Internet2 is a consortium of 201 universities that works with government and the IT industry to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies with the goal of accelerating development of the public Internet.

In early April, Internet2 announced to its members that it would not renew its contract with Qwest Communications, the prime network provider of its Abilene network. At the same time, Internet2 said it has a "non-binding" contract with another carrier to support the group's next generation network needs.

Because Internet2 is a member organization, all contracts have to be approved by members. Once that happens the name of the new service provider will be revealed, the group says.

The new network, which will likely receive its own name akin to Abilene, will initially support 10 10Gbps Lambdas, but will eventually scale to 80 10Gbps Lambdas, Van Houweling says.

The new network will allow Internet2 to "focus on the trains, not the tracks," he says.

The additional bandwidth is needed to support high-speed experiments that are already being conducted. Van Houweling says Internet2 members are running an experiment that uses 7Gbps, but currently Abilene can only support one such experiment at a time.

The research group is still working out some details such as what type of service level agreements (SLAs) will be offered to Interent2 users. Today, no SLAs are offered over the Abilene network.

The new network will also include self-provisioning support so universities that are about to launch a new experiment will need only go to a Web site to have additional bandwidth provisioned.

All Internet2 members are expected to be transitioned off of Abilene by September 2007.