VOLUME 12, NO. 2 JANUARY 1999
In Fast Company: WPI to Help Build Internet2
PI joined a group of 132 elite colleges and universities in September when it became a member of Internet2, a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development. It was created in October 1996 for the primary purpose of enabling development of a new generation of network applications in support of scientific research, distance education, national security, environmental monitoring, health care and digital libraries. That same month President Clinton announced the Clinton-Gore Next Generation Internet Initiative with a key goal of demonstrating new applications that meet important national goals and missions.
In his State of the Union message on Feb. 4, 1997, the President committed his administration to supporting a "second generation of the Internet so that our leading universities and national laboratories can communicate in speeds 1,000 times faster than today."
"This is great news for WPI," says WPI President Edward Alton Parrish. "WPI joins an elite group of universities involved in the development and deployment of a much higher bandwidth Internet. It's another step toward being a national university and will position our faculty to be at the leading edge in research and education. It also validates our current networking capability as well as the credentials of our staff to deal with very complex issues."
Thomas J. Lynch, WPI's new vice president for information technology, notes that the entire WPI community will benefit from Internet2. "We are hoping for an implementation date of May 1999," says Lynch. "Internet2 means WPI will accelerate the extension of our state-of-the-art network to the remainder of our Worcester campus and to our two satellite locations in Waltham and Southborough. All of our users will enjoy broader and faster access within the WPI network as well as to the outside world. We have two T1 lines now and will get significantly more bandwidth. Our distance learning program will also benefit. We've been in the forefront of distance learning and Internet2 will help us strengthen that position."
The WPI project will include wiring upgrades and network equipment in all academic buildings and increased connectivity to the Internet. WPI's ATM-based network will be enhanced to provide increased campus bandwidth and a connection to the very-high-performance Backbone Network Service," says Sean O'Connor, WPI's manager of network operations. "Launched in 1995, the vBNS is a specialized, high-speed connection between colleges and universities used for research and development and government agencies such as NASA," he says. "It's a nationwide network that supports high-performance, high-bandwidth research applications and is a result of a five-year cooperative agreement between MCI and the National Science Foundation. It will open up many more project opportunities and grants for our faculty and students."
WPI will serve on the committee steering the Internet2 project. "We have a seat and vote on all decisions that go to the Internet2 board," says O'Connor. "The benefits of being part of Internet2 are extensive. It means we can obtain funding to help pay for connectivity and upgrades to our internal infrastructure, and an ability to begin to use the new Internet connections for new activities: distance learning, virtual laboratories, digital libraries, and learningware.
Internet2's Web site at www.internet2.edu has substantial background on the creation of this program and says that it will join with corporate leaders to create the advanced network services necessary to meet the demands of broadband, networked applications. Industry partners will work primarily with campus-based and regional university teams to provide the services and products needed to implement the applications developed by the project. Major corporations such as Ameritech, Cisco Systems, Digital Equipment Corp., IBM, MCI, Sprint and Sun Microsystems have already pledged their support for Internet2.
Internet2 will bring focus, energy and resources to the development of a new family of advanced applications to meet emerging academic requirements in research, teaching and learning, the Internet2 site notes. It will also address major challenges facing the next generation of university networks by, first and most important, creating and sustaining a leading-edge network capability for the national research community; second, directing network development efforts to enable a new generation of applications to fully exploit the capabilities of broadband network media integration, interactivity, and real-time collaboration; and third, integrating the work of Internet2 with ongoing efforts to improve production Internet services for all members of the academic community.
"The Internet2 project is a clear signal that higher education intends to contribute to the advance of those network technologies," says the Internet document.
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