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Inventors in the Data Center: A NYSERNet Feature PT 1 of 2

November 3, 2014  |  Written by Andrew Baird, Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications

This blog is a two part story about NYSERNet, a customer and partner of Telx, and a participant at our MarketplaceLIVE event on November 13th 2014 in San Francisco.  This first blog will go into the history of NYSERNet, and then the second blog will cover the issues NYSERNet is looking to address today with the help of Telx’s diverse data center ecosystem.  A White Paper will also be made available with the second blog publication.

NYSERNet’s History

Founded in 1985, NYSERNet’s mission is to provide high-speed network connectivity and advance network technology and related applications in order to satisfy the needs of institutions within New York State's R&E community.  It is able to do so by offering a wide variety of member services, including Colocation, Transport, Commercial Internet, Dark Fiber, Data Center, VMware, Education and R&E.  A not-for-profit institution, NYSERNet also serves as an educational forum for the exploration of opportunities and challenges presented by these technical innovations. NYSERNet was founded by Richard Mandelbaum, who was the first chairman of the board and Bill Schrader, executive director of the Cornell supercomputer center, its first president..  Today, its membership is comprised of a consortium of visionary public and private New York State universities and colleges, museums, healthcare facilities, primary and secondary schools, research institutions and more.  NYSERNet's Board of Directors is composed of CIOs and other senior personnel from New York's leading research universities and institutions.

NYSERNet pioneered the nation's first non-government IP network in 1987.  The network was constructed to connect New York's research universities, supercomputers at Cornell and Princeton, and the fledgling National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), which was initiated in 1985 to support and promote advanced networking among US R&E institutions.  However, NYSERNet’s vision extended well beyond the network.

In 1998, the organization deployed NYSERNet 2000, a next-generation R&E network incorporating a backbone extending from Buffalo to New York City with gateways to multiple national research networks.  This network, working alongside complementary initiatives like  Internet2, a consortium led by universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, and the Next Generation Internet Program, US Government projects intended to drastically increase the speed of the Internet, supplied New York’s R&E institutions with the most current, high-performance network technology.  However, as its members’ complex communication networking requirements grew, NYSERNet soon realized the need for a New York City metro dark fiber network that provided unlimited scalability at a cost-effective price point.

In 2003, in the wake and uncertainty of the dot-com collapse as well as the 9/11’s devastating effects on the city’s telecommunications infrastructure, NYSERNet took on major risk when it began the implementation of its New York City Metropolitan Fiber Project in Manhattan.  The New York City Metropolitan Fiber Network aimed to leverage the surplus of fiber left over from the dot-com bust to provide NYSERNet members with flexibility and capacity to handle growing demands at a reasonable cost.  Backed by the collaborative effort of nine of New York’s most prestigious institutions, the network evolved, ultimately resulting in effectively future-proofing New York’s university research community from a networking perspective.  Possibly the greatest benefit of NYSERNet’s New York City Metropolitan Fiber Project, however, was the development of a global R&E network exchange and peering point at Colo@32.  Colo@32, NYSERNet's communications hub located inside 32 Avenue of the Americas at Telx’s third New York City-based data center, is a carrier-neutral colocation facility where member networks constructed on its dark fiber meet and connect to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as well as other network service providers.

In 2004, NYSERNet acquired dark fibers from Buffalo to New York City, replacing its NYSERNet 2000 and introducing a 32-wave DWDM transport facility to provide members with high-performance connectivity to the national and international R&E community, as well as increased capabilities in capacity and flexibility to support and drive qualitative new R&E applications.  In 2005, NYSERNet made history by partnering with New York University and Internet2 when it announced the first successful demonstration of production native IPv6 multicast networking on a nationwide North American network.  In an effort to protect the critical data generated by its R&E community, NYSERNet launched its state-of-the-art data center and business continuity hub in 2007.  The Syracuse, NY-based facility is now used as a depository for member’s replicated critical information, communication resources and systems in the event of service-affecting occurrences like Hurricane Sandy - which NYSERNet would face (and overcome) just five years later.

Continuously focused on bolstering the depth and breadth of its educational offerings, NYSERNet expanded its education program in 2009.  In addition to offering a greater selection of hands-on technical training courses for members, the organization revitalized its annual technical conference, now dubbed the Tech Summit, and expanded its role in promoting and delivering the annual New York State Conference of Higher Education CIOs (NYSCIO).

In 2010, NYSERNet developed the Network Management Continuity Service (NMCS), designed to provide participants unable to fulfill this function internally with network management support.  NYSERNet is now exploring the feasibility and acceptability of providing members with private cloud backup support.  In addition, NYSERNet now offers its members commercial Internet access via The Quilt, a consortium of advanced regional networks that leverages the aggregate buying power of its combined membership to secure low-cost, high-performance network services and applications for over 200 universities and thousands of other educational institutions.

NYSERNet and Its R&E Community Today

Research is the key to success when embarking on any new project or solving issues, but its importance magnifies drastically when challenges are faced on a global scale.  In these cases, it becomes critical.  Research provides us with the tools, data, background information, opposing viewpoints and supportive arguments that enable us to obtain a more comprehensive grasp of the very issues we are trying to solve.  Research also yields statistical and trend analyses, collaboration and discovery that are used to enhance the expertise and skills of our professionals.  Thus, they are more capable of making the best decisions when working to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

However, the compilation of these tools and data, and the execution of this research cannot be addressed by institutions or government entities acting alone.  The solutions to these types of challenges require the support and collaboration of the global collective, including universities, corporations and technology companies.  NYSERNet has served as a strong proponent and enabler of such collaboration, supporting the R&E community in New York for more than 25 years by delivering next-generation Internet services that enable critical communication as well as the utilization of new tools and technology in the sector.  

Learn more about NYSERNET in the coming part 2 blog, and see Tim Lance in person at MarketplaceLIVE when he speaks on the panel, “Solving Issues Larger Than Us”, with Telx CEO Chris Downie.