Out on runway number nine, big seven-o-seven set to go
But I'm stuck here in the grass with a pain that ever grows
This old airport's got me down, it's no earthly good to me
'Cause I'm stuck here on the ground, as cold and drunk as I can be
You can't jump a jet plane like you can a freight train
So I'd best be on my way in the early morning rain
Have these lines from Gordon Lightfoot's "In the Early Morning Rain" captured your sense of hopelessness as a bandwidth-challenged UM researcher? If so, then pick up your dongle and prepare for flight: Ole Miss has been cleared for takeoff into the jet lanes of Internet2 research networking.
In February, the Ole Miss campus connected to Internet 2. The time is close at hand when Ole Miss will "go live" with this link-- the tower will be manned, and traffic will start flowing. And while your sluggish LAN may still leave you watching from a sand trap at the University Golf Course as the first packets lift off the runway, don't resort to academic hoboing just yet. Your ticket may already be reserved...don't be left behind.
This article seeks to answer a Hannibal handful of UM I2 questions:
No, I meant: What's it to me?
Oh, well...do you have a killer idea for research collaboration, distance education, or web-based sociopathic experiments, but can't get it off the ground because the Internet is too slow or unreliable (e.g., for high quality, real-time audio/video collaboration with a partner group at another university)? Or, have you always wanted to collaboratively produce a play or opera, and have it seen live (or on-demand) by wired student audiences across the entire country, but assumed it was impossible or unfundable? Or, from the seemingly safe distance of about a thousand miles, do you need to scrutinize the facial expressions of the criminally insane and federally, solitarily confined (but I2-connected) psychiatrist you are interviewing as part of your dissertation research? Or do you, in fact, have any educational idea with universal appeal? If so, then Internet 2 could be just what you need to share your ingenuity with a deserving world. Alternatively, you or your students could become I2 consumers, taking online saxophone lessons from Michael Nguyen at Southwestern University in Texas, or remotely operating Mona Norcum's giant electron microscope at the University Medical Center in Jackson.
Is Ole Miss now on Internet 2?
In short, yes. Here's how:
In February, BellSouth installed an I2-dedicated, OC-3 (155 Mpbs) link from the Ole Miss campus to the ITS State Network access point in Tupelo. This link is separate from, but complimentary to, UM's already existing DS-3 (45 Mpbs) link through the state network to the commodity (commercial) Internet. The OC-3 link will constitute the first leg of Internet 2 outbound network traffic from (or the last leg of inbound Internet2 traffic to) the border of the UM campus. Sometime in the immediate but undetermined future, UM IT staffers will activate the OC-3 link. At that time, UM's Internet 2 presence will be born, and we will join USM, MSU, JSU, and a family of hundreds of other educational institutions, government agencies, and corporate partners in this great experiment.
How is UM's Internet 2 connection being funded?
The source of funds for the initial 2 years of the UM Internet2 connection are from a $550,000 NSF and EPSCoR grant and a $200,000 matching funds account, provided by the UM research community. $250,000 of a 2001 Navy High Performance Visualization Center Initiative (PHVCI) grant will go towards the research network infrastructure upgrades, with none to the I2 connection costs. The rest of the campus network upgrades costs will come from the matching funds account, which is limited by available funding. Continuing funding for UM I2 connectivity will be from the UM research community, after the grants expire.
Will I be able to access it?
Yes. As soon as UM activates the already-installed Internet 2 connection, all of your UM network traffic to and from out-of-state I2 sites will be carried over the high speed Abilene Internet 2 backbone.
How will I access it, or know that I am using it?
You, the unwashed end computer user, will be clueless. That is, you will do nothing differently, but will have a seamless interface to the network, leaving the routing to us.
When you connect to a remote server, through whatever protocol or application (email, web browsing, logging in, transferring files, etc.), the network will know that you are connecting from an I2 site. If the target server is also located at an out-of-state I2 site, then the network traffic will automatically be diverted across the Abilene I2 backbone, regardless of the application or bandwidth requirements. Similarly, if a remote user at an I2 site makes a connection to any computer on the UM campus, their back-and-forth traffic will automatically be transmitted over I2, whether they need the wide bandwidth or not. However, if a connection is made with a remote computer that is not on an I2 site, regardless of who initiated the contact, and regardless of the bandwidth demands, the traffic will be routed over the commodity (regular) Internet. So, you may not realize if you are using I2, unless the remote application advertises the fact. However, if your application needs I2, and doesn't have access to it, or if there is an I2 configuration problem, you will have some clues...intolerable network delays!
How fast of a speedup will I see, compared to the commercial internet?
In general, this will depend on the application itself, variations in underlying middleware over which your application runs, the network load at various legs along the route, and some local-site or remote-site network configuration settings. On the short term, it will also depend dramatically on the size of the pipe between your computer and your campus backbone. Since I2's connection points are limited to its member institutions, there are less legs, or hops, in a packet's journey, which means less overhead processing and faster arrival times. The I2 backbone itself is extraordinarily fast (OC-48c--2.4 gigabits per second) and getting faster; the UM campus backbone is very fast (1000 megabits per second, or 1 gigabit per second), and the connection between the two is very fast (OC-3 155 Mpbs pipe from UM to Tupelo, then another dedicated OC-3 155Mbps pipe over the ITS State Network to Jackson, and finally a shared OC-3 155Mbps connection with JSU/MSU/USM from Jackson to the Atlanta gigaPoP. )
However, if you are on the UM campus, the speed of the connection between your computer and the UM campus network backbone may or may not be fast depending upon your location on campus. Possibilities are: