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7/9/2007 - Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi’s four research universities, Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi State University (MSU), the University of Mississippi (UM), and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), are enjoying faster and broader Internet connections via a new route to the information superhighway. This path, which began handling traffic July 1, connects the institutions to two super-fast national research networks: the Internet2 Network and the National LambdaRail, or NLR.

The four Mississippi institutions had connected to Internet2’s original Abilene research network, which is scheduled for decommissioning this fall, but now connect to the Internet, the Internet2 Network and, for the first time, the National LambdaRail via the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, Louisiana’s state-of-the-art, high-speed fiber-optic regional network. LONI links Louisiana's six major research universities to 85 teraflops of supercomputing power and to the national research and commodity networks. (A teraflop is a measure of a computer’s speed and equals 1 trillion calculations per second.)

LONI officials predict this collaboration will benefit both states. “Mississippi’s connections to LONI mark a new day for collaboration and will likely foster innovative approaches to research and economic development for the Gulf Coast,” said Charlie McMahon, LONI executive director.

The four Mississippi institutions shared in the one-time cost of establishing the physical network connections to LONI’s point of presence, or POP, in Jackson. Installation of the new Internet2 Network backbone itself was completed in June by Internet2’s new fiber carrier, Level 3 Communications, which also provided some of the fiber-optic cabling for LONI.

JSU connects directly to LONI’s Jackson POP, while the other three universities are significantly upgrading their campus connections to Jackson with new AT&T Metro Ethernet circuits. This widening of the last leg to each campus allows 6 to 10 times more traffic to flow between each campus and the national networks, accommodating the growing demand for not only e-mail and Web browsing, but especially for data-intensive, network-based research applications.

“Our researchers are actively involved with large data sets used in high-performance computing initiatives for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, other agencies, and collaborations with numerous universities,” said Robert Whalin, associate dean of the JSU College of Science, Engineering, and Technology. “Having higher bandwidth and faster transfer rates will greatly aid the School of Engineering in its high fidelity transient simulations and visualizations.”

The installation of the new Metro Ethernet switches in Oxford and Starkville also creates opportunities for local companies wishing to connect to AT&T’s Metro Ethernet service, which has been available in Hattiesburg for some time.

The improved bandwidth is welcome news to Mississippi researchers whose projects require video on demand or access to large, remote scientific data sets. “Mississippi State University is a national leader in high performance computing, and our connection to LONI will help foster research collaborations with our sister research institutions in Mississippi and with our national peers,” said Kirk H. Schulz, MSU vice president for research and economic development. “We anticipate that this will have a significant positive effect on our interdisciplinary research programs in engineering, materials science, and biotechnology.”

The enhancement of computing resources boosts the overall missions of teaching, research, and service at the University of Mississippi, said Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “Utilizing the newest technology and enhancing our capacity ensures that Ole Miss researchers can compete nationally and that we are in a position to recruit prominent scholars,” Clark said.

Perhaps the Ole Miss’s biggest beneficiary of the expanded bandwidth will be researchers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who frequently exchange large (10 GB) data files with international collaborators in California and Geneva, Switzerland. “Getting the connection to the LambdaRail and LONI is crucial in allowing us to participate as a Tier-3 GRID computing facility,” said David Sanders, a UM computational scientist and research physicist.

Glen Shearer, director of the Mississippi Functional Genomics Network at USM, is looking forward to having more bandwidth at his group’s disposal. “It will help us in a lot of ways,” he said. “We look at high-throughput genomics data here and the high bandwidth, fast access is critical for us.”

For more information on the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, go to http://www.loni.org.

About Internet2®
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. By bringing research and academia together with technology leaders from industry, government and the international community, Internet2 promotes collaboration and innovation that has a fundamental impact on the future of the Internet.

About National LambdaRail
National LambdaRail, Inc. (NLR) is a major initiative of U.S. research universities and private sector technology companies to provide a national scale infrastructure for research and experimentation in networking technologies and applications. NLR puts the control, the power and the promise of experimental network infrastructure in the hands of our nation’s scientists and researchers. Visit http://www.nlr.net for more information.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


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