Janet6 ‘offers the future’ for research networking needs

Jisc takes back the network from a managed service provider to light up its own fibre and offer a future proofed service to researchers, universities, colleges and schools across the UK

The Janet network, connecting research institutions and educational facilities for collaboration, today re-launched as Janet6 in what it hopes will “address future demands for high-capacity connectivity.”

In its previous incarnation, the network was run by Verizon as its managed service provider, but the company in charge, Jisc, will now operate the network itself, offering more flexibility to increasingly demanding users.

“Over 25 years ago a number of big researchers got together at a conference… and they realised if they got together and approached telcos as one, they would get a better service and a better price for a network to share research,” said Tim Marshall, CEO of Janet.

“The big difference between the first day and now is it is a much more strategic organisation with a clearer view of the network and the needs of the users. We have become the intelligent customer for the market with all the information from universities and colleges about what they need.”

It is taking dark fibre from SSE Telecoms and lighting up the network through its London operations centre, staffed by a team of 45 people. Further partnerships with Juniper Networks, Ciena and Imtech enables Janet6 to provide 8.8TB of capacity over 100GB Ethernet infrastructure to 140 higher education institutions and 450 further education colleges.

Schools are also able to join the network through their local authorities, offering video conferencing and collaboration for remote learning and linking with other institutions.

“For example, we have been working with the RSC and Ravensbourne College, using video over JANET so students can watch a performance and then have a Q&A session with the actors afterwards to talk about it,” said Marshall.

“During the Olympics, we also used super high vision to display 8K resolutions and when we showed it at the BBC centre, they were blown away. This is 10 years away from the consumer market, which just shows JANET is the future.”

Moving from Janet5 to Janet6 has taken the organisation three years, from the information gathering stage to full procurement and roll-out.

“You have to be careful with asking what each institution needs,” added Marshall. “I have a background in Hollywood and over there, you ask what people need and they tell you they want the world.”

“It is the same here as these are aspirational people we are dealing with. We are here to balance the reality, but it is my job not to let them down and ensure they get what they need.”

Now, the organisation is set up to continually build on the network and address the future needs of researchers and educators in the present.

“Even if I worked for the next 20 years, I don’t think there would be another launch like this from Janet5 to Janet6,” added Marshall. “We have now engineered it so we will constantly be upgrading the network and it will continually evolve to keep ahead of the market and serve our users’ needs.”

The switchover to Janet6 is set to go live today.  

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