By GCN Staff

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Virginia Tech launches network exchange in Atlanta

Virginia Tech has created a new high-performance data network exchange in Atlanta, Ga., which it says is dramatically improving access to national and international research networks. The facility, named the Mid-Atlantic Research and Education Exchange Atlanta, will also streamline access to major research centers throughout the southeastern United States.

The new facility complements another data network exchange already operated by Virginia Tech in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area, which was formerly known as the NatCap Aggregation Facility.

Modern science and engineering research depends on specialized high-performance networks, such as Internet2, to link distributed computing, storage, visualization, sensor and laboratory resources with research scientists and students collaborating over a global cyber-infrastructure.

Since 1998, Virginia Tech has operated statewide network and aggregation systems that link Virginia’s major research institutions to national research networks and provide a regional hub for data transfer.

In 2012, the primary network aggregation facility in the Washington, D.C.-area was rebuilt using the latest technology, raising transfer speeds to 100 gigabit/sec.

The establishment of a second data network exchange in Atlanta provides geographic diversity, backup connectivity, and direct peering connections with major research institutions such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control, according to Virginia Tech.

The university partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology to house the new facility and to establish the regional peering connections.

Both data exchange facilities are linked to Virginia Tech via extremely fast fiber optic connections established through the university’s participation in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which expanded the regional fiber network.

Having two connections, one going north and one south, greatly enhances reliability and up-time, according to Virginia Tech, which will remain connected even in the face of a fiber cut on one of the paths or a problem at one of the facilities.

The university’s Network Infrastructure and Services unit designed both facilities and operates them under contract to the Mid-Atlantic Research Infrastructure Alliance. Executive Director William Dougherty says he considers the data exchange to be a critical program for the university.

“Providing the best possible access to national research networks is vital to our mission to enable the competitiveness of Virginia Tech research,” said Dougherty. “By allowing other regional universities to use these facilities, we create economies of scale and support Virginia Tech’s commitment to engagement and leadership.” Participating institutions all contribute to the cost of operating the data network exchange facilities.

Posted by Susan Miller on Mar 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM

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