Demand for TFN Service Forces Early Ring-0 Upgrade

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- August 4, 2005 -- Engineers from the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) completed an early upgrade to the primary core ring on the Third Frontier Network (TFN) last week in order to handle increasing demand for networking services. Known as Ring-0, it is the most important ring on the nation's most advanced statewide fiber optic network for education and research. TFN connects Ohio's universities, colleges, K-12 schools, research centers, federal labs, hospitals and a variety of public and private agencies to promote education, research and economic development.

TFN Project Manager Denis Walsh said that initially Ring-0 was designed to support four channels of traffic, because it supports intra-city transport as opposed to the other core rings that support inter-city transport.

"Ring-0 was turned up with two active channels, and the ability to double capacity to four channels," Walsh said. "We decided this was the most cost effective implementation at that time because it spans only one city and the ring capacity could be increased more easily than the inter-city rings."

Walsh said Ring-0 supports 80 percent of TFN traffic and 100 percent of Internet2 traffic, making it the network's most important core ring. The five other core rings on TFN were built at 32 channels in order to provide for future demand. Ring-0 was built smaller because it was an intra-city ring and could be more easily expanded than the inter-city core rings.

OSC Optical Engineer Tony Eller said the five inter-city core rings were originally built with 32 channels because the distance, complexity and cost of upgrading them in the future to meet increasing demand was prohibitive.

Eller said that when eTech Ohio joined the network in late 2004, OSC decided to upgrade Ring-0 sooner than originally planned. eTech Ohio is a new state agency created by the merger of Ohio SchoolNet and the Ohio Educational Telecommunications network to align content, technology resources, and expertise.

"Because eTech Ohio required multiple channels on Ring-0, it would have limited our ability to provide for higher education," Eller said. "We knew we had to expand Ring-0 early in order to continue serving current and future clients on the network."

Eller said planning for the Ring-0 upgrade started in February 2005, and equipment installation was completed in late July.

"We did all the engineering design work during February, but a significant amount of equipment and hardware had to be purchased for the upgrade, as well as a significant amount of manpower from OSC, SBC and Cisco." Eller said.

OSC upgraded Ring-0 with a new type of hardware called a "Rodem Selectable Switch" by Cisco, that wasn't available two years ago when TFN was being built. Eller said the new Rodem switch handles network traffic more efficiently that the multiplexer switches installed on the network two years ago.

The project team included Eller, Gene Bassin, Christine Dorsey, Deric Carl, Matt Hakin, Jason Maleszewski, Mark Fullmer Chris Spears and Eric Stewart from OARnet, Ben Flowers and Dana Daum from Cisco, and Curt Wagoner from SBC.

Eller said TFN's five other core rings are inter-city rings spanning several cities, and all of them run through Columbus. Ring-1 connects Columbus, Byhalia, Findlay, Toledo, Port Clinton, Lorain, Cleveland, Akron, New London, and Mt. Gilead. Ring-2 connects Columbus, Mt. Gilead, New London, Akron, Canton, New Philadelphia, Conesvillle, and Newark. Ring-3 connects Columbus, South Charlestown, Xenia, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Springfield. Ring-4 connects Columbus, Lancaster, Athens, Portsmouth, and Chillicothe. Ring-5 connects Columbus, Springfield, Dayton, Lima, Marysville, and Delaware.

For more information on the Third Frontier Network see www.tfn.oar.net
For more information on eTech Ohio see www.osn.state.oh.us/home/