Microsoft links with Net2 backbone for SP2 delivery

Users of the Internet2 testbed networks should be able to download Service Pack 2 for Windows XP at blinding speed.

Microsoft Corp. has established a 2.5Gbps link from its Windows Update site to the high performance Abilene backbone. This will create an alternate download link to users at 225 Internet2 member institutions.

'We worked with Microsoft to set up a very interesting test of large-scale distribution of software on a high-performance network,' said Internet2 spokesman Greg Wood.

The link became operational this week, and researchers will study the performance of the nationwide network carrying the downloads.

'Once the information starts flowing, we'll be able to analyze that,' Wood said.

Abilene is a backbone for Internet2, a collaboration between government, academic research institutions and industry to develop high-performance networking and applications to take advantage of it. Abilene is operated by Indiana University, Qwest Communications Inc. of Denver and Juniper Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.

In February, the 13,000-mile network was upgraded from 2.5Gbps OC-48c circuits to 10Gbps OC-192c. The new high-speed routers are located in Qwest points of presence.

On the commercial Internet, performance often is constrained by last-mile links or backbone congestion.

'With Internet2 we don't experience that,' Wood said. Most Internet2 users are in research universities and have 10Mbps to the desktop, so bandwidth is not an issue.

Internet2 has established a content-based traffic program to study the performance of advanced content traffic, including video, audio and multimedia streams, as well as advanced uses of standard content such as programs.

SP 2 falls into this category because of the size of the files being transferred and the wide-scale distribution required.

The service pack is a major security upgrade for Windows XP Home and Professional, which involved the rewriting of about 5 percent of the millions of lines of code in the operating systems. The downloaded files range from about 70M to 92M.

SP2 is being distributed automatically through Windows Update and is available for download from Microsoft. It also will be available on CD by mail. Because of the size of the files and the number of users, distribution is expected to take months.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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