Specialist NREN networks outperform commercial providers for scientific data transfers

Tests showed the REANNZ network outperformed commercial internet service providers for large research data transfers.

Tests carried out in 2017 showed the REANNZ advanced network outperformed commercial internet service providers for large research data transfers.

The REANNZ network is specially configured to successfully manage huge research and education data transfers, which differ markedly from enterprise or residential use. These big data transfers are bursty and unpredictable, potentially taking place over hours, days or weeks, and transfers of hundreds of gigabytes, terabytes and petabytes are common.

Data integrity is also paramount and REANNZ actively monitors and measures any packet loss. Just imagine the impact of data loss on a genomic sequence! 

The performance testing found:

  • A commercial provider was unable to send a large research-grade dataset from New Zealand to Europe. Data transfer rates only reached 2.7 Gbps before failing entirely – see Figure 1 below.

  • In comparison, the same dataset was successfully sent over the REANNZ network over a six-hour period, reaching 9.98 Gbps and achieving a 99.9997% delivery quality – see Figure 2 below.

  • A 10 Gbps research connection transferred data to Australia at almost 100% efficiency in approximately one day. However, the same transfer through a commercial provider would take almost four times longer.

A transfer test to Europe would take 12 times longer. The performance testing report stated: “[T]his highlights a systemic problem caused by the commercial realities of commodity service providers. It is not commercially viable to appropriately support the research community through commercial, commodity internet providers."

Figure 1 shows how a commercial provider was unable to send a large research-grade dataset from NewZealand to Europe. A data transfer rate of only 2.7 Gbps was reached before the transfer failed entirely.

 

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Figure 1: Commercial provider's transfer to Europe

Figure 2 shows the same dataset which was successfully sent over the REANNZ network in six hours. It reached 9.98 Gbps and achieved delivery quality of 99.9997%.

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Figure 2: REANNZ transfer to Europe

High-performance research and education networks like REANNZ aren’t just about size and speed of transfers. They also make collaboration possible as never before – across institutions, borders and disciplines. They enable whole new ways of thinking and working, which in turn spark new possibilities and create breakthroughs in resolving the pressing issues of the day.

These networks also mean that New Zealand researchers and innovators can take their place on the world stage and be an active part of game-changing global initiatives across great distances, and all because of specialist technology.

Source: REANNZ performance testing report 2017.

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