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A Gathering of State Networks: Strategies for the Next Decade Merit Network, Inc. www.merit.edu Scott Gerstenberger - wsg@merit.edu Mike Mosher - mmosher@merit.edu Merit Background Private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), Michigan membership corporation

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a gathering of state networks strategies for the next decade

A Gathering of State Networks: Strategies for the Next Decade

Merit Network, Inc.www.merit.edu

Scott Gerstenberger - wsg@merit.edu

Mike Mosher - mmosher@merit.edu

merit background
Merit Background
  • Private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), Michigan membership corporation
  • Founded in 1966 by Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University
  • Members now include all 13 public universities in Michigan
    • Each member has a seat on the Board of Directors
  • 100 employees
  • $23M annual budget
michnet services overview
MichNet Services Overview
  • MichNet is the name of Merit’s network
  • Michigan GigaPOP and MichNet backbone
  • MichNet dial-in service
  • Web and email hosting and support services
  • Center to Support Technology in Education
  • USF (E-rate) educational activities
  • Performance analysis and security consulting
michnet services
MichNet Services
  • Michigan GigaPOP and MichNet backbone
    • External Connectivity
      • Abilene (Cleveland) OC-12
      • Chicago NAP OC-3, OC-12 on order
      • Cable & Wireless 3 DS-1s, 2 DS-3s
      • Qwest DS-3, second DS-3 on order
    • Abilene Service
      • Michigan State University
      • Michigan Technological University
      • UCAID Ann Arbor offices
      • University of Michigan
      • Wayne State University
      • Western Michigan University
michnet services 2
MichNet Services - 2
  • Commodity Service
    • 18 POPs in Lower Peninsula
    • 3 POPs in Upper Peninsula
    • Mix of POS and ATM
    • DS-1, DS-3, OC-3, OC-12 point-to-point circuits
    • Cisco 7500 and 12000 routers, LS-1010 switches
    • Connections to Ameritech ATM/Frame Relay (OC-3)
    • Connections to GTE ATM/Frame Relay (OC-3)
    • 24x7 Network Operations Center
    • 400 customer attachments (56k to OC-3)
michnet services 3
MichNet Services - 3
  • MichNet dial-in service
    • Service provided to organizations, not individuals
      • Each organization provides its own end-user support
      • Distributed authentication/authorization/accounting using Merit-developed RADIUS software
      • Sophisticated mechanisms for regulating shared use of dial-in facilities by many different organizations
      • Over 250,000 users
    • 12,000 Michigan lines at 163 POPs
      • 95% local call coverage in Michigan
      • 36% ISDN and v.90
      • 72% v.90
    • National 800 service
    • National/international dial-in via AT&T
michnet services 4
MichNet Services - 4
  • Web and email hosting and related services
    • Build and support Internet servers
    • Provide streaming media services
  • Center to Support Technology in Education
    • Develops online K-12 resources and training materials
    • Often involves state level K-12 partnerships
    • Activities generally grant funded
  • USF (E-rate) educational activities
    • Popular email forum and in-person activities
  • Performance analysis and security consulting
michnet customers
MichNet Customers
  • Merit’s 13 owner-member universities
  • 275 other affiliated organizations
    • Approximately 90% of the state’s K-12 districts
    • Approximately 95% of the state’s public libraries
    • Most of the state’s community colleges and private 4-year colleges
    • Various governmental, health-care, and non-profit organizations
    • Over 50 commercial organizations and ISPs
state educational environment
State Educational Environment
  • Very decentralized
    • 13 universities are all independent of each other
    • K-12 and community colleges also decentralized
  • No state-provided network for education
  • No state-imposed networking standards for K-12 or higher education
  • No explicit state funding for networking
  • Merit has no formal relationship with state government, but lots of informal contacts
merit s r d activities
Merit’s R&D Activities
  • Active in networking software and standards development for many years
  • Lead partner with IBM and MCI in managing the NSFNET, 1987-1995
  • Current activities:
    • AAA (RADIUS) Consortium
    • GateD Consortium
    • Multithreaded Routing Toolkit (MRT)
    • Internet Performance Measurement & Analysis
    • North American Operators Group (NANOG)
merit s funding model
Merit’s Funding Model
  • No state funding
  • The 13 members pay annual sliding membership fees that cover uncapped connectivity wherever they need it
    • Fee based on bandwidth and Board voting rights
  • Affiliates pay for services based on service, bandwidth, location, and organization type
  • K-12 technology training is grant funded
  • R&D is grant funded or funded by licenses
  • Consulting services are fee-based
challenges for merit
Challenges for Merit
  • Network capacity management
    • Forecasting bandwidth requirements
    • Buying commodity service and telco circuits
      • Good news – new providers, prices are dropping
      • Bad news – new providers, erratic lead times, unmet due dates
    • Sharing infrastructure for Abilene and commodity
    • Looking for less expensive last mile connectivity
      • Using CLECs
      • Installing dark fiber
      • Co-locate POPs with carriers
      • DSL
      • Wireless
challenges for merit 2
Challenges for Merit - 2
  • Working with K-12s and libraries
    • Decentralized environment makes this time consuming
    • Uneven understanding of technology
    • Large disparity in financial resources
    • Merit generally can’t represent or speak on behalf of the Michigan community with any authority
    • Struggling with IP video, training teachers, computer-based curricula, etc.
    • Role and direction of state government has often been unclear.
challenges for merit 3
Challenges for Merit - 3
  • Sustaining grant-funded K-12 training
    • Have learned that teacher training is not something for which most school districts have money available
    • Evolved to relying on grant funds
    • Grants are often fairly short term and time consuming to obtain
    • Staff uncertainty about future projects
challenges for merit 4
Challenges for Merit - 4
  • Promoting Internet2
    • Signing up additional participants
    • Participating in demos and other Internet2 promotional activities
      • Demos can be expensive and/or hard to arrange
      • Applications not yet abundant
    • Devising equitable ways to use shared infrastructure to support both Abilene and commodity traffic
challenges for merit 5
Challenges for Merit - 5
  • Sustaining R&D activities
    • Staff losses to commercial world
    • Changes in NSF priorities makes funding harder
    • Merit R&D activities less related to operation of MichNet than they once were
challenges for merit 6
Challenges for Merit - 6
  • Being a non-profit in an increasingly commercial world
    • Is Merit a technology partner or just another vendor?
    • Sometimes viewed with skepticism by organizations that haven’t used our services
    • Hard to retain staff (pay rates, stock options), but good working environment and high quality of current staff helps
    • No deep pockets when major capital needed