Ontario research network adds new Cisco routers

The Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network has announced the implementation of new Cisco ASR 9000 routers in a move aimed largely at supporting high bandwidth video and IPv6 usage for researchers, students and educators in the province.

The non-profit corporation, which operates a research and education network for staff and students at many universities and colleges across Ontario, decided to purchase the new routers as opposed to upgrading the Cisco 7600 line it had been using for the past eight years. The new routers are expected to provide greater capacity to support audio/video traffic, distributed computing, data mining and other network intensive apps.

Sam Mokbel, senior director of engineering and network operations at ORION, said the Cisco gear his organization was previously using did not have the ability to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which should be in high demand by many of the educational institutions ORION services.

“They haven’t made an explicit statement about it, but they were telling us what their plans were and we know in a year or two they would need10GE,” he said.

The 9000 series will also bring ORION enhanced support for IPv6 as the organization prepares for the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. Mokbel said that while ORION was able to find a workaround for IPv6 support on the 7600, the method would not be sustainable for the long-term.

“For Queen’s University, for example, if they wanted to participate in IPv6, then we’d give them a transport circuit from Kingston back to Toronto,” he said. “That’s not the best way to do it.”

Mark Kummer, vice-president of Cisco Canada’s service provider division, said it was not surprising that 10GE and IPv6 played a major factor in ORION’s decision to buy new as opposed to upgrade their old systems.

“Research groups in universities probably push the envelope more than most businesses” Kummer said in regard to video and network bandwidth usage.

For IT shops faced with a similar decision on whether to upgrade or buy new when building out their network, Mokbel advised companies to plan for growth.

“A decision factor for us was how much the new hardware could grow in terms of capacity,” he said. “We used to plan for a box that could help us grow twice to three times the capacity, but I would say that now you need a lot more than that.”

“Keep it simple and keep it Ethernet,” he added.

Another important decision, Mokbel said, is choosing a vendor that is able to help launch and support the routers into your environment.

“A vendor that has a local team to provide support will definitely save you a lot of headaches,” he said. “And you can be sure their will be some headaches.”

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