Houston has now become a key stop on the information superhighway thanks to a partnership between the University of Houston and fiber optic provider AboveNet Communications Inc.
The two organizations worked together to establish the Research & Education Network of Houston (RENoH), a metropolitan fiber optic network that allows massive amounts of data to be transferred among UH, Rice University, the Texas Medical Center and other research and educational institutions. Utilizing a $3.5 million dark fiber optical network provided by AboveNet to the UH Texas Learning and Computation Center (TLC2), the 22 route miles of fiber that make up RENoH in the Houston Metropolitan area have now been activated for day-to-day use with the ability to rapidly transfer from one trillion bytes (or terabytes) to one quadrillion bytes (or petabytes) of data.
“Dark fiber, which is optical fiber laid in the ground just waiting to be activated for use, enables us to transparently transfer data from one institution to another across the city or country as though we are in the same building at the same facility,” said Lennart Johnsson, Cullen Professor of Computer Science and TLC2 director at UH. “Prior to the activation of optical fiber networks like RENoH, Houston-area researchers literally had to transfer large data quantities manually by carrying or shipping data tapes or disks from one collaborating institution to another.”
AboveNet CEO Bill LaPerch adds, “Our technologically advanced fiber network is designed to meet the bandwidth intensive needs of the educational community. We’re happy to partner with the University of Houston on this important technology initiative.”
By bringing Houston onto the national network, UH is leading the way with AboveNet’s assistance in city, state and national networking projects. Led by TLC2, RENoH provides the capability to significantly advance the research and educational achievements of several Gulf Coast universities and the Texas Medical Center, as well as connect them with Texas’ fiber optic network LEARN (Lonestar Education and Research Network) and the U.S. National Lambda Rail (NLR), which is the United States’ state-of-the-art computer network for its research and educational communities.
“This world-class research network infrastructure will provide UH faculty and researchers with a new tool to further innovations and enable collaboration with other community partners,” said UH Associate Vice President and CIO Dennis Fouty. “The fact that this new network interconnects the major research and educational universities in Houston truly makes this a key asset for our city.”
According to Ken Kennedy, the John and Ann Doerr University Professor of Computational Engineering at Rice, the 10 gigabyte fiber ring made possible by this AboveNet/UH partnership will enable Houston institutions like Rice, UH and TMC to explore distributed computing strategies (also known as grid computing that uses multiple network-connected computers) for the solution of scientific problems requiring powerful, diverse data and computing resources. By connecting these resources at high bandwidth, he said, the fiber network will reduce the delays inherent in transferring data from one site to another in a complex flow of computational work. He adds that by connecting the Houston institutions to the NLR, the fiber network also will make it possible to participate in national distributed computing experiments, thus keeping Houston at the forefront of research in this emerging area of activity.
“This new fiber optic infrastructure fundamentally changes the ability for UH and its public and private research partners to collaborate, cooperate and compete, as well as create new economic development opportunities,” said UH President and UH System Chancellor Jay Gogue. “The timing is perfect, as this echoes many of the details in the UH System’s impact study that we recently unveiled, which outlines the extent of our community outreach and partnerships, as well as analyzes the university system’s impact on the Houston economy and community.”
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
AboveNet Inc. provides fiber connectivity solutions for businesses and carriers. Its private optical network delivers key network and IP services in and between 14 top U.S. metro markets and London. AboveNet’s network is widely used in demanding markets such as financial services, media, health care, retail and government.
The Texas Learning and Computation Center (TLC2) at UH fosters and supports interdisciplinary research, education and training in computational sciences and engineering through centers, laboratories and individual faculty initiatives. TLC2 has state-of-the-art computation, visualization and educational facilities for environmental studies, biological, biomedical and energy research, undergraduate and graduate education and teacher training.