Internet2 at U-M
The University of Michigan appoints an Internet2 Applications Liaison to help the U-M community understand and use our membership in Internet2. This person keeps up with the various activities across campus involving leading edge and high bandwidth uses of the network, and helps to provide a bridge between them.
Tom Bray is the current U-M Internet2 Applications Liaison. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-763-9949.
"Internet2" refers to both an organization and a network. As an organization, it's a consortium of over two hundred research universities, affiliated organizations (such as Merit), and corporate partners. For information on the Internet2 organization and general information about the Internet2 national network, see the Internet2 web page.
As a network, Internet2, is a national and international collection of interconnected high performance networks that allow sites attached to these networks to interact in ways that are not possible using the commodity Internet. The Internet2 networks are a significant advance in networking capability for the research and education community. The development of Internet2 was partly driven by the shortcomings of the commodity Internet, but also by a desire to allow the creation of new network applications that are not possible on the regular Internet.
The University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus has a 622M bps attachment that carries commodity Internet traffic and a gigabit ethernet attachment that carries Internet2 traffic. The U-M Dearborn campus has a 45M bps attachment that carries both commodity and Internet2 traffic. The U-M Flint campus has a 100M bps attachment that carries both commodity and Internet2 traffic. All users on all three campuses that have access to the Internet have access to Internet2 as well, but the ability of any specific user to take full advantage of Internet2 will depend on the details of their local computer equipment and departmental LAN.
What is the Abilene network and how does it relate to Internet2?
Abilene is one of the high speed Internet2 networks. Abilene was created and is operated by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID). The Abilene backbone currently operates at 2.4B bps (OC48c) and is being upgraded to operate at 10B bps (OC192) over the next 12 to 18 months.
The U-M campus backbone networks are connected to the Michigan GigaPoP which is run by the Merit Network. The Michigan GigaPoP has two high speed attachments to Abilene. One is a 622M bps attachment from Ann Arbor and the other is a 1000M bps attachment from Chicago that is shared with MREN, the Chicago area GigaPoP. The Abilene network is in its own turn interconnected with other Internet2 networks including the very high speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS), various federal agency networks and several international high performance research and education networks. Abilene is not interconnected to the commodity Internet—it only carries Internet2 traffic.
Why is U-M participating in Internet2?
The quality and speed of the Internet2 is what we expect from future networks. Internet2 can provide immediate access to video resources and the ability to interact via video in real time with quality better than a television set. Internet2 will give researchers the ability to move massive amounts of data in a reasonable and predictable amount of time. Internet2 will allow for the real-time control or remote scientific instruments. Internet2 will allow clusters of remote computers to operate in "grids" as if they were a single computer from the users perspective. Internet2 gives this opportunity to those who need access to these capabilities now. It enables us to begin working with the network and applications we'll eventually have across campus.
Who is currently using Internet2 on the U-M campus and how are they using it?
These are some of the projects U-M is working on at this time. Note that not all of their web pages have information on Internet2 activities.
What can Internet2 do for me as a faculty member?
If you are a faculty member with a need for data communication with other Internet2 connected sites including sites on Abilene, the vBNS, several federal agency networks and international research and education networks that is fast and predictable, this will be of use to you.
What can Internet2 do for me as a staff member?
Staff that work closely with faculty or graduate student researchers are the most likely to use Internet2 services, although Internet2 is available to all staff when they communicate with other Internet2 connected sites. Internet2 will impact staff as new tools are deployed into the commodity Internet which provide all users with high performance capabilities.
What can Internet2 do for me as a student?
All U-M students have access to Internet2 when communicating with other Internet2 connected sites. Graduate students doing their own research in collaboration with other students or faculty or who need access to specialized instruments, facilities or services at other Internet2 connected sites will make the most use of Internet2. Undergraduate students who are working closely with faculty researchers may also make extensive use of Internet2. Internet2 will also impact students as new tools are deployed into the commodity Internet which provide all users with higher speed access.
What kinds of applications will be possible with Internet2?
High quality interactive video, the remote control of scientific instruments, collaborative creation of music, dance or other performance art, shared distributed file storage, shared access to high performance computational systems and resources, data mining, and access to digital library resources including high quality graphics, audio and video are all applications that will be enhanced or made possible using Internet2. Many other applications are possible as well.
For many applications today, Internet2 simply means access to a much more capable network with fewer users and thus much more bandwidth available to the application.
What grant opportunities are there for Internet2?
How can my department get an Internet2 connection?
All U-M campus users have access to Internet2 now since the campus backbones on all three U-M campuses are connected to the Michigan GigaPoP which is in turn connected to Internet2/Abilene.
What do we need to do to upgrade our departmental LAN to take advantage of Internet2 access?
Everyone on campus has at least some access to Internet2. To get the full advantages of Internet2 access:
- Workstations and servers should have at least 10M bps switched access to a 100M bps departmental network.
- For some applications 100M bps access to a 100M bps or even a gigabit departmental network may be needed. This would require category 5e twisted pair cooper cable as well.
- The departmental network should support multicast services.
- Workstations must be able to sustain high bandwidth applications. In some cases existing workstations will be able to support the required data rates. In other cases new Network Interface Cards (NICs) will be required. In some cases workstations will need to have additional memory added or the workstation will need to be upgraded to a higher speed processor or higher speed internal bus.
Is ATM required to use Internet2?
No. The Internet2 networks are TCP/IP networks. ATM like ethernet is a networking technology that may be used to access Internet2, but the use of ATM is not required.
The Abilene network backbone uses Packet over SONET (POS) rather than ATM. In the past Abilene accepedt either POS or ATM attachments, but today the use of ATM is discouraged.
ITCom and the College of Engineering have upgraded the core of their backbone networks to use 622M bps ATM. The Medical Center has upgraded its backbone to use gigabit ethernet (1000M bps). ITCom operates an additional gigabit ethernet (1000M bps) backbone in parallel with its ATM backbone. Even when ATM is used as the backbone technology ATM is not required to connect individual workstations or departmental networks. Ethernet (10M, 100M and gigabit) will remain the most common technology in use on campus to connect workstations and servers. The direct use of ATM rather than the TCP/IP protocols is discouraged.
Is fiber to the desktop required to use Internet2?
No. Twisted pair copper will continue to be the most common physical layer technology used to connect individual workstations and servers on campus. Category 5e twisted pair wiring can support gigabit ethernet over distances up to 100 meters. If necessary, additional bandwidth can be obtained by using multiple twisted pair ethernet connections.
Fiber may be used to connect some workstations and servers that have very demanding or unusual requirements and fiber will be used to interconnect wiring closets within buildings and between buildings. While the cost of installing fiber is coming down, it remains higher than the cost of installing copper. The cost of Network Interface Cards to connect to fiber is expected to remain much higher than the cost of similar cards to connect to copper.
Is Internet2 separate from the campus backbone?
On the U-M campus the same backbone networks carry both "commodity" and Internet2 traffic. When this traffic leaves the U-M campus it is split and the Internet2 traffic is routed to the Abilene network and commodity traffic is routed over one of several national commodity backbone networks.
What type of workstation do I need to take advantage of Internet2 services?
In many cases existing workstations will work OK. In other cases you may need to upgrade a workstation by adding a faster Network Interface Card (NIC), more memory or a faster processor.
What types of technical and end-user support will U-M provide to Internet2 users?
Information on upgrading departmental or college local area networks is available from CAEN in the College of Engineering, MCIT for U-M Hospitals and the Medical School, and from ITCom within ITCS for other units.
Departments may wish to contact their ITCom Project Manager for assistance.
How much will Internet2 services cost?
There is no separate or additional charge for Internet2 access. See ITCom Rates for U-M Ann Arbor campus data network service rates.
Internet2-Interest E-mail List
You can subscribe to the email@example.com e-mail list if you would like to receive updates on Internet2 at U-M. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject field of the message.
There is an online archive of the messages posted to Internet2-interest.