As the result of a partnership established in November, Cornell University and other colleges in New York State will now be able to communicate with educational and research institutions across Canada via a direct high speed network. The connection was made using the New York State Education and Research Network (NYSERnet).
NYSERnet is a non-profit organization that enables universities and research institutions in New York State to communicate and collaborate on technology and education programs among themselves and with institutions across the United States. NYSERnet is one of only two regional networks in the U.S. to make such a connection to the Canadian network.
In 1985, several major universities and research institutions within New York State met to discuss the need to connect with each other electronically and share information over a high-speed network. Because phone lines couldn’t handle the high demands of such a network, NYSERnet was founded as a solution to the problem.
“Not only did they [the universities] connect to the Cornell supercomputer, but also to each other,” said Jim Brennan, Director of External Programs for NYSERnet. Founding institutions of NYSERnet include Cornell, Columbia University, NewYork University, Syracuse University, AT&T Company, and Xerox Corporation, among many others.
Although NYSERnet is a non-profit organization, several for-profit subsidiaries were created, and eventually became commercial Internet service providers (ISP).
Brennan called this transformation a “natural progression,”due to the commercial benefits of the network. The network physically comes together in Manhattan, which allows institutions to “share expenses and have more robust connections to researchers,” according to Brennan.
Without such a connection, each individual university that wanted to connect would need to run its own lines to and from each other. Around the country, networks similar to NYSERnet were joined together in what became the foundation of the Internet.
According to Brennan, the network originally ran ran at about 56 Kbps, a speed comparable to the modern modem.
“As recently as 1986, that was considered high speed,” said Brennan.
The difference between NYSERnet and what is known as the”commodity Internet” (the commercial Internet most people use to shop online, check e-mail, etc.) is, “when you use commodity Internet, you don’t have an understanding of what is between you and your destination,” said Dave Vernon, vice president of the Office of Information Technology and NYSERnet board member.
According to Vernon, the quality of the connection from one location to another can be affected by several factors, such as the hardware quality and amount of traffic. With a high-speed educational network such as NYSERnet, Vernon said there is an “implicit understanding,” about the quality of network.
“You control the equipment that is between you and your destination,” he said.
In a recent development of NYSERnet technology, the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry, and Education (CANARIE), a similar non-profit organization, has connected to NYSERnet at what is called a, “peering point,” –a physical connection where the two networks can exchange information.
“What NYSERnet has done is allow [CANARIE] to connect to the NYSERnet infrastructure,” said Vernon.
This connection will allow New York and Canadian universities and research centers to exchange information just as easily as current NYSERnet universities do. The connection will allow for research projects and even online classes to exist efficiently between universities.
According to NYSERnet, it is a member of what is known as the Internet2 association, a non-profit group of more than180 universities and groups of industry and government officials in the U.S.
These officials work together “developing and deploying advanced network applications and technology, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet,” Vernon said.
Archived article by Kate Cooper