The first four research infratructure sites of the South African National Research Network (SANReN) went live in Johannesburg this week.
This is a major step forward in the creation of an information and communications technology platform for South African research.
Teams from the Tertiary Education Network (TENET), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Neotel have worked closely together to deploy the network.
This marks a key change in the research and development community in South Africa, and is set to place local research and development on par with the best in the world.
"Access to high bandwidth is key in world-class research and development. This translates to providing significant network capacity to research institutions in South Africa," says Christiaan Kuun, SANREN project manager at the Meraka Institute. This has now been achieved on the backbone of Neotel's Next Generation Network (NGN), which is both flexible and scalable and custom made according to SANREN requirements.
The four sites are the main campuses of Wits; UJ; and two of UJ*s satellite campuses, Bunting and Doornfontein. The four sites are on a shared 10 Gbps ring network that connects them to each other and to a major gateway site operated by TENET and hosted by Internet Solutions in Johannesburg.
"Future plans are to make all Wits satellite campuses and the CSIR's Johannesburg campus live at the same capacity. We also plan to upgrade the main campuses of Wits and UJ," Kuun adds. Research and higher educational institutions across South Africa will be connected to SANReN as the network expands.
The SANReN project is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology and managed by the Meraka Institute of the CSIR. Neotel provided the optical fibre circuit to ensure a high capacity backbone for the SANReN Johannesburg ring. SANReN provided the network equipment.
Neotel's tailor-made solutions to ensure network capacity have been vital in enabling SANReN to respond to network demands.
"We are pleased that our participation in the SANReN project is contributing to the ultimate success of an initiative that is of national importance. This is our contribution to the research and development community in South Africa," says Stefano Mattiello, executive head of enterprise services at Neotel.
TENET secures internet services for South African universities and research institutions and provides operational services to SANReN, currently this includes national and international connectivity at the gateway. Operating costs are recovered by TENET from the user institutions.
"TENET and the user institutions are delighted to work together with the DST and Meraka Institute on this exiting project that is reshaping research and education networking in South Africa," says TENET CEO, Duncan Martin.