UNINETT

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UNINETT is the National Education and Research Network (NREN) of Norway, supplying network and network services for universities, university colleges and research institutions.

Its web site in English is at http://www.uninett.no/index.en.html


Organisation

The UNINETT group supplies network and network services for universities, university colleges and research institutions and handles other national ICT tasks. The Group is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and consists of a parent company and four subsidiaries. All the UNINETT companies are located in Teknobyen in Trondheim. The companies are as follows:

  • The parent company UNINETT develops and operates the Norwegian research network, which links together Norwegian educational and research institutions and connects them to an international network.
  • UNINETT ABC supports the Norwegian educational sector with advice and recommendations on ICT solutions
  • UNINETT FAS provides technical operation of administrative systems for universities and university colleges
  • UNINETT Norid operates the registration service for domain names under the .no domain
  • UNINETT Sigma coordinates national infrastructure for computational science.
  • The UNINETT group offers one of the most advanced network environments in Norway and has international activity via research projects as well as in standardization work within the Internet field.

In addition to 71 permanent employees, a considerable number of students and professionals from the entire university and college sector are attached to the enterprise on a project basis. The activity is run non-profit. Turnover in 2005 totalled NOK 164 million.


Technology

(sourced from http://forskningsnett.uninett.no/forskningsnett/index.en.html)


The Research Network is UNINETT's high capacity network connecting the local networks of customers in education and research from Ny-Ålesund in Spitzbergen in the north to Kristiansand in the south to each other and to other networks beyond UNINETT. This network is and shall remain well ahead of what is commercially available with regards to capacity, uptime and functionality. The security is at a high level without unnecessary restrictions of openness and functionality, and with the option for the customers to make decisions regarding their connection when these goals conflict.

The core of the network consists of connections of 2.5 Gbit/s (gigabit per second) forming rings to ensure that the loss of a single link does not cause any loss of connectivity. A large and increasing proportion of the customers are connected to this core through 1 Gbit/s links, either with dedicated links or as part of a secondary ring structure. For locations with both a smaller number of users and relatively high costs of establishing links, the capacity is typically 155 Mbit/s.

Bandwidth is largely a question of cost, but UNINETT follows a principle of "surplus capacity" in the development of the network, recommending a bandwith significantly above the normal usage. This makes possible the re-routing of traffic from one customer in the case of the loss of a connection without degrading the service to other customers, prevents users suffering from rush-hour congestion and allows experimental network usage in parallel with ordinary use.

The Research Network is connected to the public network exchanges in Norway, primarily NIX and NIX2 in Oslo through 1 Gbit/s each, but also to exchanges in Bergen and Trondheim. Traffic to and from most other Norwegian network operators is exchanged here. International traffic, both to other research networks and to other commercial network operators, is exchanged through NORDUnet, which is connected to UNINETT's Research Network through a 10 Gbit/s connection with a 5 Gbit/s fallback.


Robustness and uptime

An operations center for network and services is available 24/7 for the customers' IT staff. The NOC function is manned by UNINETTs technicians both during daytime and during off hours in the form of on-call duty. The NOC staff can address most problems immediately and if necessary alert local staff at the customers.

The network structure is designed for optimal redundancy at a low cost by making one customer's main connection another one's backup route in the case of downtime. Not only the links themselves, but also the choice of termination points contributes to this: hardware failure or power outages affecting a network node shall not be enough to block both routes to a customer connected to a ring structure.


Functionality

UNINETT provides the customers with sufficiently large blocks of IP addresses that every single host, even the workstations of end users, can get a permanent globally unique IP address. This makes every user a fully participating netizen, rather than a passive consumer of information with a one-way "peephole" into the Internet.

New network techology is introduced at an early stage in cooperation with network research groups among the customers, and is transfered to the production network as soon as the experience from such use shows that this is technically possible without interfering with existing traffic. Examples of this kind of functionality which is available throughout the Research Network is IPv6 and Multicast.

In addition to the network connection, UNINETT offers a range of network services and support functions without requiring the customers to use them. Among these are solutions developed in cooperation with the customers to address their common problems. This not only saves the sector as a whole large sums in reduced development costs, but also provides tailor-made solutions beyond the reach of the individual customers.



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