Connecting research and education across Europe and beyond
Co-funded by the EU and Europe's National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), the GÉANT network provides computing infrastructure and high-speed data connections between EU countries and beyond, enabling researchers to quickly and securely transfer large amounts of data all over the world.
© elenabsl #168617695, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Research and education are ever more reliant on the generating, sharing, analysis and storage of data. The millions of scientists, researchers, academics and students based at tens of thousands of institutions, research centres and universities need high-speed and secure connectivity, with advanced services based on their digital identity, that support their work and collaboration with colleagues worldwide.
By connecting national research and education networks (NRENs) across Europe, the GÉANT network provides the infrastructure that enables this collaboration, reaching more than 50 million users at 10 000 institutions Europe-wide with reliable, fast and unlimited data transfer, analysis, storage and other resources, ensuring that the EU remains at the forefront of global research.
Projects that rely on GÉANT and the NRENs are generating massive amounts of data that need to be moved quickly and securely and often with low latency. And exciting new research projects are also coming on stream that are generating data several orders of magnitude greater than what were seeing already, so the need for fast, reliable connectivity is accelerating, explains Paul Maurice, GÉANT (GN4-2) project task leader for project communications in the Netherlands.
A key aspect of the work carried out in the GÉANT (GN4-2) project and predecessor projects has been building or acquiring high-speed fibre-optic cable connections between existing academic research networks run by organisations in individual partner countries such as Jisc in the UK, RENATER in France, PSNC in Poland or DFN in Germany and linking them to similar networks in countries outside the EU.
Over two exabytes or 2 billion gigabytes of data currently flow through the network every year at speeds of up to 600 gigabytes per second the equivalent of downloading 9 000 feature-length movies in a single minute and more than 100 national networks worldwide are now reached by GÉANT.
The GÉANT (GN4-2) project also works with providers of online software, such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon, to negotiate pricing and service standards for cloud services tailored to research and educational institutions. This ensures that researchers can use these services via their institutions and NRENs as required without worrying about cost or service levels, effectively creating a single digital market across the network.
The network also oversees eduroam the international roaming WiFi service used by millions of researchers, students and academics worldwide.
GÉANT also provides digital trust and identity frameworks, so the right people can get access to vital research data wherever they are in the world, says Maurice. For example, there are increasing amounts of data from genomic analysis which may contain confidential patient information researchers need the appropriate levels of access so that they can do their work but also keep the data secure.
As the world becomes more connected, GÉANT is working to bring more communities together to benefit international research and education, as well as support global development. For example, the project is working with partners to establish scalable, cost-effective data transfer between Europe and Latin America via sub-sea cables, supporting research collaboration within the astronomy, earth observation and particle physics communities in particular. Finally, there is a softer side to the hard data and crystalline cables.
Theres also the benefit of community: the notion that together GÉANT and its partners are more than the sum of their parts, says Maurice. GÉANT is so much more than a typical internet supplier with our partners, we exist to serve science, arts and education and to build collaborative communities. The community is working together to push forward all this technology and connect everyone in a supportive way, and thats what really sets GÉANT apart.