GÉANT is a membership organisation acting with and for its members to further research and education networking in Europe and globally. GÉANT serves the research and education networking community in Europe, helping them to deliver innovative networks, technologies and services for research and education. Together with a range of community collaboration activities GÉANT manages the GÉANT project which operates the pan-European data network for the research and education community. It interconnects national research and education networks (NRENs) across Europe, enabling collaboration on projects ranging from biological science to earth observation and arts & culture. The GÉANT project combines a high-bandwidth, high-capacity 50,000 km network with a growing range of services. These allow researchers to collaborate, working together wherever they are located. Services include identity and trust, multi-domain monitoring perfSONAR MDM, dynamic circuits and roaming via the eduroam service.
Through interconnections with its 38 National Research and Education Network (NREN) partners, the GÉANT network is the largest and most advanced R&E network in the world, connecting over 50 million users at 10,000 institutions across Europe and supporting all scientific disciplines. The backbone network operates at speeds of up to 500Gbps and reaches over 100 national networks worldwide.
The network and associated services are co-funded by the European Commission through the GÉANT project (a collaboration of 38 partners consisting of the GÉANT organisation, 35 European NRENs and NORDUnet which represents the five Nordic countries).
Since its establishment over 20 years ago, the GÉANT network has grown massively with over 1000 terabytes of data transferred via the GÉANT IP backbone every day. It is often shown as a positive example of European integration and collaboration. It has recently been awarded a top score by the EC for project performance for the fifth year running
The GÉANT project began in November 2000, entered full production operation in December 2001 (fully replacing a network called TEN-155). Originally due to finish in October 2004, it was subsequently extended until April 2005.
The second generation network, named GÉANT2, began in September 2004 and continued through 2009, growing the network to 30 national networks in 34 countries.
The next GÉANT project (GN3) began on 1 April 2009 and continued until April 2013. This was then superseded by the GN3plus project which ran for two years. It is funded under the EC’s seventh research and development Research Framework Programme (often referred to as FP7).
Following the end of the GN3plus project, the project entered its fourth phase (divided into sub sections). GN4-1 ended in May 2016. The current phase is GN4-2. As part of the GÉANT 2020 Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA), the project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 731122 (GN4-2).
Technology and Services
GÉANT offers a wide range of services across its network. Advanced connectivity, network support and access services support NRENs, institutions, and major projects, together with services to support individual researchers and students.
The GÉANT and NREN networks underpin the work of a wide range of e-infrastructure and scientific research projects by providing a high performance, reliable and cost-effective communications platform across the research and education (R&E) community. Service options cover IP, dedicated private connections, virtual private networks and roaming options.
- IP Networking The core of the GÉANT network is the IP backbone. GÉANT IP provides general-purpose IP transit for national research and education networking (NREN) organisations and other approved research and education partners and providers. Its function is to provide a private service for IP (internet protocol) traffic that is separated from general-purpose access to the internet. Offering users connection speeds of up to 100Gbps, GÉANT IP provides the essential communication service that supports inter-NREN connectivity.
In addition to the core IP networking services GÉANT offers users a range of specialised connectivity options. Many performance-critical services require guaranteed performance levels and additional security that is difficult to achieve through shared IP services. In particular, applications such as data centre backup and replication, real-time mission-critical services and broadcast quality video need the guaranteed bandwidth and low latency that only dedicated circuits separated from general IP traffic can offer.
- Point-to-point services provide dedicated connectivity between two sites over the existing infrastructure. This type of connectivity can provide fixed latency between collaborating institutions, a high level of security and, if needed, guaranteed bandwidth of up to 100Gbps. Furthermore, the possibility of providing a L2 Ethernet channel end-to-end allows the use of network and transport protocol other than the classic TCP/IP, enabling users to experiment with new ways of using network connectivity. Good examples of such advanced use of the service are the SMARTfire and the InfiniCortex projects, using experimental streaming transport protocol and the InfiniBand network stack, respectively. There is also the long-lasting use in Radioastronomy and for the ITER project (linking the Cadarache facility in France to the Elios supercomputer in Rokkasho, Japan).
- VPN Services Many projects may require teams across Europe to be able to collaborate effectively with enhanced privacy. By creating a Virtual Private Network (VPN), all sites on the VPN can communicate without the need to arrange separate physical networks, while benefiting from the privacy and security of a private infrastructure. GÉANT can provide VPNs between many sites over great distances within Europe and reach the USA (via Internet2 and ESnet), Canada (via CANARIE), and Asia.
- Open Interconnectivity As international and public-private partnerships grow in importance within the R&E sector, so the high-performance, neutral interconnection points provided by the GÉANT Open service can offer users the ability to connect their own circuits – at 1Gbps, 10Gbps or 100Gbps – and can then request interconnections with any other participant.
- GÉANT Testbeds Service The GÉANT Testbeds Service (GTS) delivers integrated virtual environments as 'testbeds' for the network research community. GTS is designed for researchers of advanced networking technologies to help support testing and development over a large-scale, dispersed environment. GTS can support multiple projects simultaneously and isolates them from each other and from the production GÉANT network to provide security and safety. This facility is leading the way in providing facilities to help develop the next generation of internet services.
- eduroam provides 50 million students and researchers with access to thousands of wi-fi access points in over 80 countries using a single, secure login facility - making international collaboration much easier. Over 5 million international logins a day are enabled by eduroam.
Management and Support
The connectivity delivered by GÉANT is supported by a comprehensive range of network monitoring and management services. These optimise network performance by providing 24x7 monitoring across the GÉANT Service Area infrastructure, enabling fast identification and remedy of any faults on the network as well as providing powerful security to prevent and detect malicious attacks. Users benefit from the range of GÉANT network monitoring, security and support services employed by NRENs to assure optimum performance for projects and institutions. The areas of tools and services in this group include performance measuring and monitoring, performance enhancement and security.
- Performance measuring and monitoring - Analysing performance in global research networks is complex since any single path might go through several domains – campus, local and national networks as well as the GÉANT backbone. Offering comprehensive multi-domain monitoring features, GÉANT’s perfSONAR services allow users to access network performance metrics and perform network monitoring actions across multiple domains, ensuring that any source of congestion or outage on a point-to-point connection can be quickly and easily identified and addressed.
- Performance enhancement - The Performance Enhancement Response Team (PERT) provides an investigation and consulting service to academic and research users on their network performance issues. The service is achieved via eduPERT, the federated structure that combines the PERTs from the local institutions, NRENs and GÉANT and fosters knowledge-sharing across the GÉANT network community. eduPERT is part of GÉANT’s commitment to helping users get the best performance from their connections.
- Security - In an online world, network security is of paramount importance. GÉANT takes a proactive approach to security to maintain the integrity of the network, implementing advanced defences that offer sophisticated handling of network incidents.
· Securing the GÉANT Service Area network elements through design and implementation of recommended access and usage policies.
· Building proactive security services based on incident databases, anomaly detection tools and common procedures for mitigation of denial-of-service attacks.
· Defining a common approach and processes for coordinating responses to security issues.
By providing strategies for incident prevention, detection and handling, the GÉANT security systems will allow users to keep network domains secure by monitoring traffic and routing information.
Trust, Identity & Security
GÉANT and its NREN partners have developed technologies that build trust, promote security and support the use of online identities. This supports many infrastructure projects by bringing together services and users in a scalable, manageable and secure manner.
eduGAIN enables the trustworthy and secure exchange of authentication, authorisation and identity (AAI) information. It interconnects identity federations around the world, simplifying access to content, services and resources. eduGAIN provides a pan-European Web Single Sign On (Web SSO) (i.e. a single digital identity and password) to access all services provided by the participating federations and their affiliated service providers. This service is of special interest for distributed infrastructures or data archives, allowing data to be retained locally while researchers access data sets from different locations via a single sign on.
Cloud services offer higher education and research organisations the opportunity to become more agile and provide their users with a wider range of IT services at a lower cost. GÉANT provides the platform for users to access cloud services and, through its cloud service catalogue, works with other e-infrastructure projects and commercial cloud service providers to help deliver innovative services to research and education institutions and their users.
GÉANT is actively helping national research and education networking organisations (NRENs) to deliver cloud services to their communities.
The GÉANT project is a collaboration between 41 partners: 38 European NRENs, GÉANT and NORDUnet (representing the five Nordic countries), and 30 Open Call project partners.
The full list of NREN project partners are available on the website.
GÉANT Community Collaboration
GÉANT is the leading collaboration on network and related infrastructure and services for the benefit of research and education, contributing to Europe's economic growth and competitiveness. GÉANT coordinates the expertise and experience of hundreds of professionals from among its staff, member organisations, institutions and the wider research and education networking community. Its activities build on the human and other resources that they contribute.
- Support GÉANT offers practical support for members, educators, researchers and other partners to collaborate, innovate, share knowledge and agree on policies and strategies;
- Events GÉANT organises events such as workshops, meetings, training and conferences, including TNC – Europe’s largest networking conference for research and education;
- Expertise GÉANT works to gather community expertise, and provide staff expertise in procurement, project management, community engagement, network operations, and outreach including dissemination and training;
- Collaboration GÉANT liaises with other e-infrastructure organisations, user communities, industry and with the European Union.
Many of the task forces, special interest groups, workshops, conferences and other activities are open to anyone with appropriate expertise, manpower, equipment or services. Other activities are carried out by staff or partners in the context of a specific project or as part of the core business of GÉANT.
GÉANT links to research networks in other world regions, including:
- North America (Internet2, ESnet, NLR, NISN and CANARIE)
- Latin America
- North Africa and the Middle East
- South Africa/Kenya
- The South Caucasus
- Central Asia
- Asia Pacific
These links not only help international research collaboration but also aid with projects that deliver societal benefit, such as e-health, telemedicine and weather forecasting/disaster warning systems. Allowing researchers to work within their own countries also stems migration from less developed countries, helping bridge the digital divide.
GÉANT is used by research communities, such as:
- High-energy physics
- Bio-medical sciences
- Radio Astronomy
- Earth Observation and Early Warning
- Arts and culture
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