Advanced Network progresses towards build

Service levels and charges yet to be determined

The proposed private, high-speed network for New Zealand research organisations has reached RFI (request for information) stage, though issues such as what service levels vendors will be held to — and how use of the network will be charged for — are yet to be determined.

The RFI, issued by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, differs from the average RFI in that it won't be followed by a shortlisting process before the RFP (request for proposal) stage.

Instead, it will be used to develop a range of scenarios for building the network, which will involve more than one supplier due to its complex nature.

The collaborative nature of the project means network interoperability will be a strong focus of the RFI process.

"The project will be paying particular attention to ensuring that the network solutions from different suppliers can and do inter-operate with acceptable performance levels," the RFI document notes.

Other points noted in the document include that ethernet over fibre is the preferred means of carriage, that it will be based on PoPs (points of presence) at member institutions and that it will support jumbo frames, which are typically 9kB rather than the standard 1.5kB.

The document also notes "The support of jumbo frames is one element of ensuring that, whenever required, the Advanced Network can provide a throughput capability compatible with the needs of high-end computing and large file transfer applications."

Other features that will be required include an identity management system to register and keep tabs on users.

The RFI notes that several questions remain unresolved, such as drafting service level agreements and what the exact availability target (how many "nines") should be.

The network was to have been called the Advanced Research and Education Network for Aotearoa (Arena), but after what network implementation manager Charles Jarvie describes as a "trade name clash," it has been renamed AN, or Advanced Network.

Earlier this year, associate communications and IT minister David Cunliffe told Computerworld the government was discussing the project with potential suppliers and looking at issues such as "the optimal rent-mix build".

He said the network will be optimised for short, high-density traffic.

Under a draft use policy, private sector organisations won't be able to use the network unless they're involved in a collaborative project with one of the tertiary education institutes or Crown Research Institutes that will use it.

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