NORDUnet provides a wide range of services for the Nordic research and education community, both core network services, above-the-net services, and logistics-related services, both highly technical and non-technical in nature.
From the outset, 100 per cent availability has been an essential requirement. A future-proof network has to support the strong trend towards centralized services. Like everywhere else – both in the commercial and public sector– universities increasingly use centralized cloud services.
Like everywhere else campuses experience a significant increase in the use of digital tools. E-learning is becoming an integral part of teaching, and learning management systems are launched everywhere. Media management tools become indispensable, and the same goes for digital meeting platforms.
So, as digital infrastructure is impacting almost every part of a university, availability becomes an essential requirement. The new Nordic network will reflect that.
While the driving force behind the requirement for availability comes from the universities, science and request for in particular media services make up the driving forces behind the requirement for increased capacity of the network. New research infrastructures requires more bandwidth than ever before, with growing data sets needing to be transferred.
Genomics is one of the new data heavyweights, together with meteorology. And the emerging Internet of Things will be transmitting massive amounts of data coming from large sensor networks.
Also, the new network is taking into account the new Big Science facilities emerging in the Nordics: The European Spallation Source in Lund and Copenhagen and the EISCAT_3D radar located in the northernmost parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden.
This Next Generation framework gives NORDUnet a range of architecture and topology options, some of them determined already, others to be explored over the coming years. Just to name a few: Apart from building a Nordic core using NREN spectrum, a Baltic route is under consideration, a Norway-Denmark route not touching Oslo, and much more.
A mix of technical considerations and affordability will decide which of the many options will become reality.
Not everything is about big pipes and powerful connectivity. Cost sharing is equally important. After considering a range of options the NRENs behind NORDUnet agreed upon an incremental cost sharing model: Nordic NRENs will provide NORDUnet with the needed spectrum in their respective networks, and NORDUnet will cover the cost of getting access to the spectrum. There will be no other cost involved, apart from costs for e.g. housing equipment.
The NORDUnet Next Generation network is aiming at a whole range of different objectives. When it comes to the architecture, it will build on a ladder architecture with long legs of network going north-south. To cut that up you build “vertical” steps across, to avoid network segmentation, to secure easy and fast re-route, and to secure ample ways for the local NRENs to connect to NORDUnet etc.
Also, redundancy is important, e.g. adding lines out of Norway. And a new aspect in the design will be a stronger focus on protection against major city or regional infrastructure outages.
And still, while considering building a stronger and more efficient network the overall goal that has to be kept in sight at all times is to get more for less. The network has to be affordable and has to end up having a lower overall cost than the current generation network.
One important way to achieve that is to build a network so strong that you can minimize the need for 24/7 support and thus lower operational cost. NORDUnet is planning to remove some of these quite significant support costs, allowing it to build a better network for less money.
As of November 2018, all stakeholders have agreed on a reference architecture as well as a cost sharing model and main operational objectives. The NORDUnet board has approved migration to spectrum on Nordic NREN infrastructures and a high level implementation plan is in place as well.