Janet6 – the world’s most advanced academic computer network – has been rolled out today in the UK, addressing growing connectivity demands of British research and academic institutions.
Replacing the existing Janet5 network, Janet6 offers greater bandwidth allowing thousands of users to download and exchange data in seconds, connecting UK academic institutions and businesses to one another with enhanced speed and reliability.
“Unlike the previous Janet5 network, which was basically a commercial service managed by Verizon, in the case of Janet6, we have employed a completely different architecture that allows us to scale it up and down to accommodate the traffic we need,” said Tim Marshall, the executive director of the Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) responsible for technology and infrastructure.
“In the case of Janet6, we are using fibre infrastructure provided by SSE Telecoms but our Networks Operations Centre has the actual control over the data flow.”
Whereas the Janet5 network started at around 40Gb and was eventually upgraded to 100Gb, Janet6 starts at 100Gb and could be possible scaled up to 8.8 Terrabits, allowing vast amounts of data to be moved from supercomputers in mainland Europe to sites in the UK.
“The needs of the research and education communities are constantly evolving and we are developing flexible network architecture able to respond not just to these but to future needs,“ Marshall said.
“Major developments in bio-medical research and climate science have been made possible over the lifetime of the current network, SuperJanet5 and the power, capacity and flexibility of Janet6 will further stimulate and support the exploration that ensures the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation,” he said, explaining data-driven applications are key in most of today’s scientific disciplines including social science, climate science, biology or astronomy.
The Janet6 backbone contract for the fibre infrastructure will be for 10 years with a possible five year extension. The optical equipment used in the fibre network will be reviewed after five or seven years.
The Janet network is funded by the UK government, with the newest incarnation being available to higher education institutions for free starting 26 November.
“The Janet network is crucial to what we do. The exchange of data supports scientific research and innovation throughout the world and this requires good connectivity, low latency and high bandwidth; exactly what Janet6 provides,” said Ewan Birney, associate director of The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).
“This supports the discovery of new drugs, therapies, diagnostics and new ways to track biodiversity. The people we work with want the best datasets on demand, at the right time and Janet6 makes this possible.”
The Jisc team spent about 3 years developing the new network, which is said to be more resilient and better equipped to deal with unexpected events such as power outages or contention on the core network than the previous version