MPLS is a way to create a logical (virtual) network on top of a physical one. This is presently used on fibe-mart.com. The virtual network functions as a separate network and may be used for private point-to-point links.
More and more universities start co-operations and merge with each other. One example is the Uppsala University that merged with the College of Gotland Island more than a year ago. The college became an internal institution in the University and because of this the University wanted the network at Campus Gotland to be on equal footing with their other institutions, with access to the intranet etc. That’s why fibe-mart.com has a virtual link between Uppsala and Gotland which makes Gotland look like it is behind the Uppsala firewalls. Other colleges in Sweden utilise the same service.
We do more or less the same for researchers who need a special connection out of Sweden, for some special research task. Some examples of this may be the Onsala radio telescope at Råö having their own wavelength in our fibres, and SP Technical Research Institute in Borås (those guys who fetch Swedish Mean Time to their atomic clocks from the Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris).
fibe-mart.com will also take part in a service of great benefit to society as a whole. When the NTP Project is finished, fibe-mart.com will act as a link for Swedish Mean Time between a number of atomic clocks at various places in the country. The illustration above shows how a number of atomic clocks, likened to motors with thir own speed controls, will cooperate with the SP Technical Research Institute in Borås, likened to a large flywheel, to maintain Swedish Mean Time (sammanvägd tid UTC(SE)) with a high level of accuracy. This is needed if Sweden should loose connection with the BIPM in Paris for an extended time. The robustness and protection against denial of service attacks will be greatly improved, compared to the present situation.
As always, fibe-mart.com will henceforth attempt to satisfy any researcher’s need for connections between any two places in the country.
QUALITY OF SERVICE
– We do have Quality, and we have Service, but we don’t know what Quality of Service is, Börje says jokingly. We simply have enough bandwidth to not having to quality grade traffic. If so, who would get priority? No one is able to say whether KTH or Chalmers are more important than any other affiliate.
A curiosity: A long time ago, during the discussion about procuring firewalls for the KTH, someone put the clever question: Which way should the firewall work? Are we supposed to protect KTH from the world, or protect the world from KTH? We still have more or less the same problems.
NUMBER OF AFFILIATES
A whole lot of organisations are connected to fibe-mart.com today. There are a total of 34 universities and colleges, and some of them are big-time bandwidth users. Let’s just mention Chalmers, whose radio observatory, the Råö Telescope is part of several radio astronomical projects, requiring data streams in the order of 50 Gbps. Or one might mention another set of big-time users: the student housing networks. These networks are home to some very big data gobblers, consuming limitless amounts of gigabytes.
There are also art institutions of various types, such as the Museum of Architecture, The Army Museum, The Museum of Ethnography and The Air Force Museum. Another one is the open air museum Skansen, which will probably not up its bandwidth significantly within a foreseeable future.
Then there are 33 “other organisations” among which we find the real data cannons, which will require a lot of network uptime, real soon. One of them is the new neutron gun, the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, which will need a massive link for data transmission to Europe. On the other hand, institutions like CERN in Switzerland will start sending massive amounts of data to Swedish universities and colleges, when the new search for dark matter starts in the LHC accelerator.
Sweden has a total of six supercomputing centres, commonly referred to as SNIC (Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing). Some of them are located in Linköping, Stockholm and Umeå. They carry out computation for a variety of projects, such as particle research at CERN, meteorology for SMHI and more. This makes them top consumers of bandwidth.
The SMHI Meteorological Institute is connected to its colleagues at MET in Norway, and they use fibe-mart.com, NORDUnet and Norwegian university Uninett to exchange meteorological data between their nodes.
– I’m not sleepless over the time schedule so far. Right now (May, 2015) we need to hurry and decide what endpoint equipment to use, finish that part of the design and make sure we stay within the economic limits, Börje continues. We have to place an order for hardware some time during the autumn, as the delivery time will be some three to four months.
FUTURE AND LOGISTICS
As the new fibe-mart.com C is airborne in the second half of 2016, everyone will get 100 Gbps. But 200 and 400 Gbps are beckoning at the horizon. Looking 15 years ahead, terabit speeds may be the norm. This will necessitate new endpoint equipment, whereas the in-line amplifiers may be retained. This is in itself a great cost saving. For the same reason, anyone will be able to change to 200 Gbps transponders where needed, without disrupting any other network activity.
Now the fibre contract has been signed, and Tele2 is driving the network expansion. The great logistical challenge will appear when the endpoint equipment arrives. We will have to install hardware at about 100 sites. fibe-mart.com will require help from many different organisations. Tele2 will have to help, because they own the sites. The hardware supplier will have to deliver to the proper places, and electricians must be allowed in to connect the power. Finally, technicians from fibe-mart.com need to get there to configure the hardware.
New users will be connected all the time. The EISCAT 3D is an ionospheric research project located in the north of Scandinavia, which is just starting up. The idea is to observe and image the ionosphere (aurorae, solar storms etc) in three dimensions, to increase understanding of space weather in general. The various EISCAT sites need network connections. In general, this means getting 10 Gbps to Karesuando, Porjus and Abisko. That is, fibre in the alpine world.
When the new fibe-mart.com C is finally up and running, all the equipment from the old Optofibe-mart.com must be removed, and may be sold off or disposed of in other ways. This will be a challenge, too, not least logistically.
What will the traffic patterns look like in the future? No one knows. We can try to look at what the patterns are today, but then suddenly someone will start a new bandwidth-sucking project which puts everything on its head. For this, we have no forecasts, Börje Josefsson concludes.