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Jisc boosts Janet network

Upgrade aims to support research, boost student experience and significantly enhance capacity for its 18 million users

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | July 24, 2016 | Higher education

Jisc, the UK's digital solutions provider for the higher, further education and skills sectors is upgrading its Janet network, to triple capacity across parts of the network over the next three years.

The upgrade will see the core network capacity across some paths increased from 200 Gbit to 600 Gbit, improving potential access to distance learning and web-based educational resources while continuing to provide organisations, students, researchers, academics and staff with an efficient, high-speed network that enables effective collaboration.

Today the Janet network serves 18 million users worldwide and provides UK research and education with a reliable, high capacity, world-class network, enabling national and international communication and collaboration. 

The Janet network upgrade has been made possible by funding that Jisc secured from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the funding councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The change will offer organisations greater capacity and more flexibility to ensure that present and future needs are met. It will support new business models like the surge in data intensive research, analytics, media-rich teaching, the growth of satellite campuses and the increase in cross-organisational and industry collaborations.

As the Government pushes for more collaboration between universities and for the sharing of big data, the Janet network update will support academics so they can continue to access, store and share their research with peers and partnering organisations.  The extended capacity will, for example, allow universities across the world to share petabytes of research data every day. To put this into context, a single petabyte is enough to store the DNA of the entire US population and clone them twice. 

An increasing culture of change and innovation within higher and further education organisations, along with a surge in cross-organisational collaboration and access to open educational resources, have all contributed to the increased data traffic across the Janet network

The upgrade will also play a major role in improving the student experience. The Janet network will make video-based teaching, group working and online interactions between students and lecturers more effective and seamless. The added capacity will also support a larger number of technology options, allowing students and staff to log in anywhere at any time and connect their own devices to the network. 

The investment follows continued growth in data traffic across the Janet network. Data traffic has consistently doubled every two and a half years since 2010, with the demand being driven by a considerable rise in the use of cloud-based services. A recent survey conducted by Jisc revealed that 69% of institutions are either planning to adopt cloud resources, or have already done so. 

Tim Kidd, executive director of Jisc technologies, said: “An increasing culture of change and innovation within higher and further education organisations, along with a surge in cross-organisational collaboration and access to open educational resources, have all contributed to the increased data traffic across the Janet network. 

“We believe that the upgrade will be instrumental in keeping UK research competitive on a global scale and enable high end collaborations across a wide range of projects which support things like medical research, all of which are making great contributions and advancements for mankind.

“The improvement will mean that researchers can have access to facilities like high performance computing which will speed up data heavy activities and carry out high-quality collaborations in real time.  They will also feel more confident when bidding for grants as they know they have the right infrastructure in place to support projects.” 

The Janet network’s capacity is reviewed and upgraded on a regular basis, in line with current trends, policy requirements and technological advancements, to ensure it continues to meet the objectives of connected organisations.

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