by CIO New Zealand

REANNZ deploys organisation-wide Software-Defined Networking switch

Jul 13, 2015
Education IndustryGovernmentGovernment IT

REANNZ has reported its Wellington office is running entirely on a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) switch.

The national research and education network (NREN) provides New Zealand researchers and scientists with the ultrafast network that allows them to store and share data and collaborate with other researchers locally and offshore in real-time.

REANNZ CEO Steve Cotter says he is confident that SDN is the future of networking, and a technology that his organisation needs to be experimenting with early.

“As the Crown-owned company responsible for providing advanced networking capabilities to our country’s best and brightest minds, we see it as our duty to play an active role in the innovation of leading edge networking technology, and this includes SDN,” Cotter says in a statement.

The REANNZ office deployment acts as a prototype, and is the first step in making SDN available to our members, including all New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and leading Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), he states.

He says REANNZ is currently testing the new technology in a live environment.

If widely deployed, SDN could add great value to our country’s universities, CRIs and ITPs both by reducing costs and allowing greater independence for network operators, REANNZ says in a statement.

SDN can help reduce costs for campus network infrastructure, as vendors will no longer need to develop and maintain the software for their products any longer, making the hardware on its own cheaper for network operators to purchase than a traditional alternative.

SDN lets the network owner run open source software on commodity routing and switching hardware. Modern day switches and routers are still vertically integrated, meaning one vendor provides the hardware, operating system and the entire software stack on top.

SDN defines a framework where a network operator can purchase standardised hardware from one vendor, deploy an operating system of their choice, select a controller to drive the hardware and then deploy applications on top of this.

Dr Richard Nelson from WAND Network Research Group at the University of Waikato says he and his students have been experimenting with this rapidly developing technology alongside REANNZ.

REANNZ has forged international links that provide us with the opportunities equal or better to anywhere else in the world, says Nelson.

“SDN has traditionally been focused on datacenters, but most of the research and development work in New Zealand has been aimed at Wide Area Networks (WANs), creating potential for innovation.”

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