GÉANT Network: Moving mountains of data across the world

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Have you ever wondered how mountains of data, collected in fields from particle accelerator physics to arts and culture, are being transferred across the world? Or how millions of scientists, researchers and academics exchange their work and collaborate with colleagues worldwide?

GÉANT is Europe’s backbone network for research and innovation and prides itself on transferring 4,000 terabytes of data every day, providing what commercial operators cannot: a high-speed network that pushes the boundaries of networking technology whilst delivering a cost-effective, pan-European infrastructure.

Thanks to GÉANT, new ‘data highways’ now lead from London to Beijing and from Frankfurt to Tunis, tapping into extensive data-reservoirs. GÉANT reaches more than 100 countries worldwide via extensive global partnerships and projects and thereby staying at the heart of global research and education networking.

By connecting National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) across Europe, GÈANT provides the infrastructure that enables EU-wide & global collaboration, reaching more than 50 million users at 10,000 institutions in Europe alone, through reliable, high-capacity and low-latency networks. Large research projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, rely on GÉANT and their NREN partners for outstanding service quality and performance.

The project also oversees eduroam, the well-known global Wi-Fi service used by millions of academics worldwide; a wide-ranging trust and identity program that ensures researchers from multiple organisations can share and access data in a trusted environment; and a pan-European procurement framework that matches leading cloud providers with research and education users.

GÉANT is crucial for realising Horizon 2020’s vision of a deeply integrated European Research Area (ERA) and is proven to be one of the main drivers of the EU’s flagship initiative “Digital Agenda for Europe”.

What might sound abstract at first, is fundamental to not only increase the EU’s competitiveness, but also be able to further milestone projects like ITER, those within ESFRI or organisations like CERN, that generate vast volumes of data and rely on their secure distribution to a global network of researchers and research institutions.

GÉANT will furthermore ensure the interconnectedness of 8 new supercomputers that have been announced by the European Commission in June 2019, enabling the system to reach its full potential.

“There’s also the benefit of community: the notion that together, GÉANT and its partners are more than the sum of their parts”, explains Paul Maurice, GÉANT (GN4-3) project task leader for project communications in the Netherlands. “GÉANT is so much more than a typical internet supplier – with our partners, we exist to serve science, arts and education and to build collaborative communities”.

GN4-3, the latest iteration of the project, began in January 2019 and lasts 48 months with a total EC contribution of €77.5 million. In parallel, the GN4-3N project, which has the same timeframe and a total EC contribution of €50.5 million, will see GÉANT undertake the most signi­ficant refresh of the GÉANT network in a decade, with a major investment in infrastructure designed to support the needs of Europe’s research and education community for the next 15 years.GN4-3 and GN4-3N have over 500 participants and 39 project partners: 37 NRENs, NORDUnet (representing 5 Nordic countries) and GÉANT Association.