Skip to main content

GN4-1 Research and Education Networking - GÉANT

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GN4-1 (GN4-1 Research and Education Networking - GÉANT)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-08-31

The challenge we face is to provide an open space for knowledge, innovation and growth by providing the best possible digital infrastructure to serve all users, from flagship big science to citizen research.

GÉANT, the pan-European communications infrastructure serving Europe’s research and education (R&E) community, delivers advanced multi-domain services and facilitates joint-research activity that drives innovation. Together with Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), the GÉANT network reaches over 50 million users in 10,000 institutions.

The GN4 Phase 1 (GN4-1) project was the first step in implementing the actions defined in the 68-month Framework Partnership Agreement established between the GÉANT Consortium and the European Commission. At the same time, the project also maintained, operated and enhanced a set of high-performance production networking services.

The overall objective of GN4-1 was to provide a stable, though innovative, environment for the growth of GÉANT as the European Communications Commons for the European Research Area (ERA), providing the best possible digital infrastructure to ensure that Europe remains at the forefront of research. GÉANT achieved this through network evolution and cost-optimisation, development of a portfolio of key services, engaging with industry leaders, working closely with the other e-infrastructures and welcoming new user communities.

The work in GN4-1 developed new capabilities and evolved and evaluated emerging technologies in collaboration with partners and industry in support of some of the most demanding network-based applications. Thanks to the terabit network, 50 million researchers, scientists, academics and students can now share record volumes of data unconstrained by geographical location. These collaborations are helping to solve some of mankind’s biggest challenges, including sustainable energy, deep space, high-energy physics, earth observation, environmental disasters, medicine and more.
A key element in the achievement of this objective was to maintain the operational excellence of the established GÉANT services, while achieving significant economies on the costs of the backbone network (€3.2M cost savings were achieved).

The implementation of GÉANT as the European Communications Commons for the European Research Area (ERA) continues to provide the best possible digital infrastructure to maintain a leading role in research. GÉANT’s extensive and long-standing contacts with large data disciplines such as biology, radioastronomy and high-energy physics help shape the evolution of state of the art networking facilities. This is complemented by partner contacts with research domains that are new users of high-performance networks and services, such as: digital preservation, real-time art and humanities and new collaborations with e-infrastructures.
In addition to the individual work package objectives, GN4-1 also:
• Maintained and enhanced the production service and achieved cost reductions without a negative impact on network service levels.
• Coordinated with the other European e-infrastructure efforts (e.g. PRACE, EUDAT, EGI, OpenAire) both individually and in the framework of the increased coordination effort planned by the EC.
• Provided a global extension of existing partnerships with CERN/LHC, EUMETSAT, iMinds and InfiniCortex.
• Expanded the footprint and increased the depth of services offered to roaming users with enhanced trust and identity services (in coordination with the AARC project) through Federation as a Service, and with added group and attribute management in eduGAIN. This was achieved by:
○ Growing eduGAIN by 150% of the baseline number of participating entities.
○ Supporting attribute release in eduGAIN by supporting deployment of the Research and Scholarship Entity category (usage increased by more than 400%) and by the Code of Conduct (usage increased by 225%).
○ The transition
• Good progress was made implementing the GN3plus Final Review recommendations for the GÉANT2020 FPA during GN4-1.
• The TNC15 Conference held in Porto, Portugal 17–19 June 2015 was well-received by 650 participants.
• The GÉANT Assembly met 18-19 June 2015, 14–15 October 2015 in Brussels, 25–26 November 2015 in Luxembourg, and 14–15 March 2016 in Utrecht to discuss project progress.
• A GN4-1 Symposium was held in Vienna, Austria on 8–9 March 2016, with 294 participants.
• An amendment of the FPA and the GN4-1 technical annex allowed a partner from Latvia to be added to the Consortium.
• An amendment of the GN4-1 technical annex was accepted at the end of Q4, which extended the network costs of the project for four months.
• Launched the new brand’s visual identity and messaging at TNC15 – across the booth, posters, brochures, stage sets and livery, and a community collaboration video and animation to explain the logo/identity transition.
• Participated in TNC15 with GÉANT Project booth presence, service and technology demonstrations, 15 project-related presentations and posters, and a feature in ‘CONNECT’ magazine.
• Built and launched a responsive, comprehensive website for GÉANT, presenting for the first time an integrated set of services and offerings (from the DANTE, TERENA and GÉANT portfolios).
• Published three issues of ‘CONNECT’ magazine with over 100 articles in total, which were distributed at key events and to project partners.
• Sustained news outreach via web, email and social media postings, including the issue of seven press releases, publishing of 55 news stories, including partner announcements with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. The Activity achieved a greater than 30% increase in twitter followers, engaging regularly with third parties – for example, Copernicus and Digital Single Market.
• Simplified and consolidated the portfolio into clear product families, and developed a product branding strategy.
• Developed service material and content library with one new service brief, six service descriptions (rebranded and business-as-usual updating), three white papers, two service posters and one pull-up banner, one video, and a range of service portfolio presentation slides for use across the project.
• Held GÉANT project sessions in the Task Force for Communications and Public Relations (TF-CPR) meetings (28–30 October, Cambridge, UK; 16–18 March, Stockholm, Sweden), focusing on project updates, clouds, campus best practice, user outreach, and campaign discussions for eduroam, eduGAIN and eduOER.
• Coordinated the project’s participation at multiple conferences, workshops and exhibitions including showcasing the project at four major events: TNC15 (Porto, Portugal), SC15 (Austin, USA), Net Futures (Brussels, Belgium) and ICT 2015 (Lisbon, Portugal).
• Achieved greater levels of engagement, with EC communications in particular, by developing a close working relationship with the EC DG CONNECT communications officer.
• Extended dissemination reach by sharing of content and news through close collaboration with NRENs, EC and other stakeholders.
• Significantly improved its outreach and dissemination activities.
• 2015 Compendium successfully published.
• Publication of 26 best practice documents.
• Successful completion of Tasks that are being discontinued, and work planned beyond GN4-1, including the establishment of a combined Special Interest Group.
• Production of 14 Green ICT test case documents.
• Nearly 100 presentations, training events, workshops and meetings organised.
• Continued work with European NRENs (via face-to-face visits and VC meetings) as well as significant interactions with international NRENs, including those in South Korea, Japan, India, USA and the Caribbean. These efforts established closer working relationships, which resulted in:
○ An important interconnection between NII (J
The GÉANT infrastructure is at the forefront of state-of-the-art research networking, and provides access to its infrastructure to the NRENs and through them to reach more than 50 million research and education users. The engineering principles are based on the highest capacity in optical fibres and on advanced multi-domain services, including authentication and authorisation. The infrastructure is capable of providing high-quality services, and at the same time hosting innovative research. The core backbone is capable of multiple 100Gbps over each fibre link, and Terabit connectivity can be achieved by a single node. The technical achievements are complemented by advanced service development, constant effort for reducing the digital divide and worldwide collaboration and coordination activities. The GÉANT network peers with similar infrastructure at the continent level, such as Internet2 and ESnet in the USA, providing a seamless service to users, worldwide.

The work in GN4-1 progressed beyond state-of-the-art hosting activities in key areas:
• Networking: Terabit networking, software-defined networking and network function virtualisation.
• Trust and Identities: eduroam and eduGAIN, development of Identity providing roles and technologies.
• Cloud: Cloud services and Cloud interoperability.
• Testbeds as a Service: to support innovative research in networking and services on an agile platform, federated with similar initiatives, worldwide (e.g. GENI, FIRE+).

Due to the brief duration of the project, effort was focused on applying results to the production environment and preparing for future developments in each key area. Example developments include:
• Delivered 234 network changes, requiring 91 engineering site visits across Europe without incident.
• Fulfilled 66 complex user service requests.
• Open and updated 97% of all incident tickets within service level targets.
• Extended the reach of the EUMETcast Terrestrial service beyond Europe.
• Delivered SDN-based future network service solution proofs of concept
• Multi-vendor SDN testbed established
• Introduced tools to improve transparency and usability of eduGAIN.
• Contributed to seven draft standards by eduroam and non-web tasks.
• SA7Increased the number of cloud providers in the GÉANT Cloud Catalogue from 14 to 18.
• 78% GÉANT NRENs are planning to get involved with clouds.
• Waived data traffic charges from Amazon and Microsoft for the R&E community.
• Organised a pan-European tender for IaaS solutions with 36 participating countries to open a single digital market for the use of these services.
• Deployed five new GTS PoPs in Europe
GÉANT at ICT 2015
GEANT's Domenico Vicinanza explains the music of data at the conference stand
GÉANT Twitter account 2
GN4-1 Symposium 2
GÉANT Facebook page
Example issue of GÉANT CONNECT magazine
GN4-1 Symposium 1
Example GÉANT brochure
GÉANT Twitter account 1
GÉANT Community blog
Example GÉANT conference
Example GÉANT stand set-up