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Horizon 2020: H2020-SGA-INFRA-GEANT-2018 Topic [b] Increase of Long-Term Backbone Capacity

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GN4-3N (Horizon 2020: H2020-SGA-INFRA-GEANT-2018 Topic [b] Increase of Long-Term Backbone Capacity)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-04-30

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.

GÉANT is undertaking the most significant refresh of the GÉANT network in a decade, with a major project designed to support the needs of Europe's research and education community for the next 15 years.

The GN4 Phase 3 Network project (GN4-3N) is an ambitious restructuring of the backbone network operated by GÉANT in order to provide an equivalent network experience for all partners.

The work of GN4-3N will deliver unconstrained access at higher minimum capacity thresholds, highest levels of security across the network, and equal access to clouds and other services in the European Research Area and beyond. It will also increase network footprint, future-proof connection speeds and stimulate the market in cross-border communications infrastructure while decreasing the digital divide.

The GN4-3N project will greatly improve the underlying infrastructure of the ¬fibre and optical system, with the ¬fibre network extended well beyond its current reach. This will involve restructuring the GÉANT backbone network through exploration and procurement of long-term Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRUs), leased lines and associated equipment, serving the GÉANT partner NRENs and providing interconnectivity to the global research and education community.

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At the end of Period 1 of GN4-3N, all four deliverables and two milestones have been completed.

Key achievements during Period 1 (1 January 2019 to 30 April 2020), include:

• Completion of the Optical Line System (OLS) procurement process that lasted over 12 months from the first OJEU notice and pre-qualification tender publication in April 2019 to the issue of Award Letters in April 2020.
• A new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) has now been set up to procure connectivity. To date, the new DPS has now been used to manage the tender process for five GN4-3N related procurement tenders covering dark fibre services across fifteen GN4-3N routes.

Implementation and Transition:
• Identification of Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC) team members and completion of five NIAC meetings.
• Recruitment of the GN4-3N Programme Manager (April 2019) and Implementation Manager (October 2019) positions.
• Setup of GN4-3N project task tracking in Jira and introduction of the GÉANT Confluence wiki for project reporting. These systems are now ready to manage the upcoming deployment phase.
• Development of a project-specific, detailed task tracking and reporting system using the Smartsheet collaborative solution. This is used to monitor the first deployment activities in the Iberian Peninsula, and to request task updates from external third parties (currently Infinera and FCCN).
• A thorough update of the proposed network topology and design, taking into account updated offerings from commercial service providers and NRENs. This was reviewed at the first Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC) meeting, where design assumptions were reviewed.
• Weekly progress delivery review calls set up to track activities related to the 2020 network build in the Iberian Peninsula.
• Equipment deployed in the new GÉANT Test Lab and acceptance testing completed
• Completion of the market review of offered connectivity services and technologies, including four weeks of face-to-face vendor meetings, completion of a new Request for Information (RFI) process for updated options, and costs and attendance at Capacity Europe 2019 (October 2019).

There are also ongoing activities required to ensure project progress, including:
• Constant dialogue with commercial providers and NRENs to fine-tune and further improve the proposed new network design in terms of costs and technical solution. The final regional enhancement routes being investigated rely on funding being available from the €48.15M network build budget, taking into account costs to build the 2019 Reference Network that has been agreed with NIAC. The target is to lock down the final network topology design by the end of 2020.
• Detailed review of financial reports and budget allocations to support the level of financial project tracking required. This will become more critical once large value contracts are placed for OLS equipment and connectivity.
• Analysis of any further admission requests submitted by connectivity providers during DPS Stage 1 for admission to the DPS – this allows admitted vendors to respond to specific connectivity procurement as part of DPS Stage 2.
• Detailed implementation planning is being completed on an ongoing basis now that Infinera have been awarded the OLS contract to build the new GN4-3N network.
• From April 2019, internal bi-weekly project review meetings have been held to track progress and issues from design through to procurement. Now that contracts are starting to be awarded to external suppliers, the GN4-3N project team are scheduling regular progress review meetings with these suppliers and, to date, regular meetings have been held with Infinera (OLS implementation) and FCCN (Iberian Peninsula connectivity).
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 work will address the digital divide through the extension of the optical backbone network undertaken in GN4-3N, as well as infrastructure sharing with NRENs when suitable and financially possible. Service and support availability will be extended to the new parts of the GÉANT service area. The proven cost sharing mechanisms used throughout the project will be adapted to equality of access to e-infrastructure services across the whole of the end-user community. Nearly all research and innovation activities involving the European research community rely on the GÉANT network, its high speed, security and availability, as well as its exceptional international connectivity (in conjunction with GN4-3, WP7).
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