Merit Network, Inc. and Internet2 announced today a collaborative effort to provide all Merit Sponsored Education Group Participants (SEGPs) with connectivity to the Internet2 Network. Schools, libraries, institutions of higher learning, museums and government agencies across Michigan that connect to Merit will now access the same leading-edge network resources as the nation’s top universities.
Merit Network first became an Affiliate Member of Internet2 in 1998, when they joined the consortium of over 200 U.S. universities, nonprofits, industry partners and government organizations that make up the Internet2 community. Merit is now an Internet2 Research and Education Network Member since this category was established in 2007.
Today, five Merit Member Universities have signed on to participate as Internet2 University Members. These Members develop advanced network-based applications for research and education, and create a project team within the Internet2 organization to support application development. The list includes: the University of Michigan (with satellite campuses in Dearborn and Flint), Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. Thanks to the expanded SEGP collaboration, now even more Merit Members will be able to leverage their efforts.
The announcement today signifies a drastic increase in Merit Members with Internet2 Network access. Merit Network will provide 81% of its entire Membership with connectivity to the Internet2 Network — an increase of 51%.
The new SEGP connections are a capstone to recent upgrades on Merit’s core backbone that have paved the way for connectivity of this magnitude.
In the past three years, Merit has significantly increased fiber-optic connections to its network. Not long ago, portions of Merit’s Membership lacked the connection necessary to support the dynamic programming and services availed through Internet2 Network access. Now with 42% of all Merit Members connected via fiber-optic cable, more Members than ever before have the connection capacity to achieve the advanced degree of networking facilitated by Internet2.
Merit has recently enhanced access points to and from its core backbone. Once offering a 155 Mbps connection, the network now features two 10 gigabit (10G) paths to Internet2, each connecting to a different geographic region of the nation-wide network. This provides an optimal level of redundancy to supplement the robust connectivity to Internet2’s high-performance network.
“Our move to facilities-based fiber provided ease in the decision-making process on the network,” said Bob Stovall, Vice President of Network Operations and Engineering for Merit. “Prior to the additional fiber and expanded connections, network operations had to provision a connection specifically for our Internet2 Members. Now that excess capacity is the norm, our network can support the expanded SEGP access and sustain it into the future.”
10G bandwidth connections to Internet2 will make programming and services possible that would not have been before, enabling e-learning, long-distance collaboration and advanced applications in the fields of research and library science. According to Merit President and CEO Don Welch, these services are essential to Merit’s Membership.
“In the research and education climate of today, it is no longer enough to simply operate a robust network,” he said. “The best way that we can serve our Membership and their communities is to equip our network with the resources necessary to accomplish more, whether it be the diverse array of services offered by Merit, or the support of programming, applications and collaboration facilitated by Internet2. In this manner, through expanded Internet2 access, our SEGPs will incur the immense benefits of both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities.”
An example of a unique partnership opportunity that leverages Internet2’s nation-wide network can be found be through the K-20 Initiative. The K-20 Initiative connects public and private K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, universities, performing arts centers and museums to the Internet2 network and enables direct interaction with over 50,000 other SEGP institutions in 39 different states.
“In bringing together innovators from all regions of the country, the SEGP program seeks to encourage the development and use of advanced educational technologies at all levels of research and academia,” said Louis Fox, Director of Internet2’s K20 initiative. “The diverse K-20 community brought together by Merit’s SEGP Membership will bring a new and exciting perspective as well as additional resources to this expanding program and will help support even greater contributions by this important segment of our community.”
In the past, Merit Members have utilized their Internet2 connection to conduct and attend classes in a variety of disciplines from distant sites via high-definition or uncompressed videoconferencing, to broadcast landmark ceremonies and events nation-wide and to access virtual field trips at a number of exciting destinations. Now with all Merit SEGPs connected, students across the state will be able to take advantage of new breakthroughs in research and collaboration made possible through the Internet2 K-20 Initiative.
“Merit is pleased to expand Internet2 access to all of our SEGP Members,” said Elwood Downing, Vice President of Member Relations, Communications and Professional Learning for Merit. “Not only will these institutions marvel at the new capabilities and access to educational programming in store for educators and students in their communities, but they will find that it can save their organizations money.”
Because Internet2 traffic is part of Merit Network’s On-Net Service, Merit Members can reduce costs across the board. On-Net traffic economically links multiple distant sites, allowing Members to share administrative resources and conduct joint research across institutions at a lower price. Provisioning will begin July 1st, with all Merit SEGPs connected by the end of Merit Network’s first business quarter.
About Merit Network
Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained at the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations. For more information: www.merit.edu
Internet2 is the foremost U.S. advanced networking consortium. Led by the research and education community since 1996, Internet2 promotes the missions of its members by providing both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities that together facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies. Internet2 brings the U.S. research and academic community together with technology leaders from industry, government and the international community to undertake collaborative efforts that have a fundamental impact on tomorrow’s Internet. For more information: www.internet2.edu[meritmediacontact]