Education thrives on network connectivity. After all, the Internet came from its precursor ARPANET.
As research and education initiatives become critical drivers of economic success, governments are looking to shore up their academic infrastructure.
Hong Kong already has one. The Hong Kong Academic and Research NETwork (HARNET) connects the campus networks of the territory’s eight tertiary institutions.
The Joint Universities Computer Centre (JUCC), the organization that manages HARNET, has a core mandate to expand the network horizons for the research and education community in Hong Kong. It has already connected the HARNET with other regional and international research networks, including the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) and the Trans Eurasia Information Network (TEIN), using traditional point-to-point links. The Global Network Architecture (GNA) initiative championed by the global research and education network operators has motivated JUCC to develop the Hong Kong Open Exchange (HKOX) so that Hong Kong can play a role in this global endeavor.
The HKOX promise
HKOX is a long-term initiative with the goal of connecting Hong Kong academia and research networks with global ones.
"HKOX is designed to help our researchers in our universities gain access to an efficient, fast and reliable infrastructure when working with their global partners," said Dr. Samuel Kwan, JUCC Director.
HKOX is ambitious and vast. From the onset, JUCC knew it needed two factors right to succeed: the right location and equipment.
Connecting the various research data centers across the globe is expensive and time-consuming. JUCC chose Hong Kong-based MEGA-i, where most of the leading networks had landing points. All the organization needed is to ink agreements with the various network providers located in the same building.
"We need to think how we can use the HKOX connectivity to benefit our research and education community in Hong Kong, particularly in terms of easing collaboration with global partners. So, we chose to locate at MEGA-i," Dr. Kwan added.
While MEGA-i offered a "network operator hotel" for research and academia, the crowded facility posed vital challenges.
Space and power were expensive. With so many network operators vying for the same real estate, rack space and power usage prices soared. JUCC looked for network requirement with a compact form factor while maximizing power efficiency, noted Peter Li, Convenor, JUCC Hong Kong Open Exchange Point Task Force.
To withstand natural disasters or outages, JUCC wanted to invest in reliability and high performance. “We needed an equipment with sufficient high speed network ports for HKOX.” David Choi, Chairman, JUCC Network Task Force said.
The Juniper advantage
JUCC chose Juniper Networks because of their interoperability, 2.4Tb performance and small 3RU form factor. “It is also green, so we do not need to buy a lot of power from the building operator, improving cost efficiency,” Li added.
Specifically, JUCC deployed the Juniper MX10003, which is part of Juniper MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers, featuring carrier-grade NAT (CGNAT), stateful firewall and deep packet inspection. Being Software-Defined Network (SDN) ready and powered by Junos OS, it addressed JUCC’s needs for high-speed Layer 2 and 3 VPN services, VPLS support, and IP Peering, while offering them the flexibility to choose.
MX10003’s support for multiple rates, especially 100G, also influenced the selection. “It supports multiple rates from 10G, 40G up to 100G. One of the reasons I believe JUCC selected us is because our router is 100G ready,” said Carson Chung, System Engineering Manager, Hong Kong and Macau, Juniper Networks.
Choi was impressed with Juniper Networks' support during the deployment phase. "Although we do not use Juniper equipment on our campus, we found the Juniper staff was helpful, and the training was comprehensive. So, we are very confident," he said.
This confidence becomes crucial as JUCC expands the HKOX initiative to make Hong Kong a regional research hub, Li noted.
From left to right: Mr David Choi, Chairman of Network Task Force, JUCC ; Dr Samuel Kwan, JUCC Director; Mr Peter Li, Convenor of Hong Kong Open Exchange Point Task Force, JUCC; Mr Oscar Wong, General Manager, JUCC