Budget Summary and Justification

1. WPI Network Infrastructure Upgrade Program

To introduce our request for funding, WPI wishes to inform NSF of additional network infrastructure work that is planned for the next three years. It is against this background that WPI demonstrates its commitment to advanced networking and wishes to establish a high performance connection to the Abilene network.

Over the past three years WPI has upgraded its wiring in over 26 buildings, of which 20 now have OC-3 connections and 6 have 100 Mbit/s connections. New ATM switches offer either 10 or 100 Mbit/s connections to every student in each of our residence halls. All WPI fraternity and sorority houses received 10 Mbit/s connections via a wireless LAN connection.

WPI is now planning to spend approximately $2.8M over the next three years to further upgrade wiring in 20 of its buildings, including all academic buildings, the library, and several administrative and plant services buildings. The first two years of the project will overlap with the proposed grant period. During this time, everyone at WPI will have Internet2 access, but we will monitor and program our routes so that all of our meritorious researchers will receive QoS guarantees, within our Intranet and across Abilene as Internet2 QoS techniques evolve. During the second year of the grant, WPI proposes to use a portion of the capital budget allocation devoted to our upgrade program to match the requested NSF funding, as documented in the next section.

WPI is a relatively small, private, technological university. Yet, we have one of the best network infrastructures of any university (rated 10th in the USA by Yahoo Internet Life Magazine), and has been ahead of most universities in the roll out of advanced networking technologies for our faculty and students. We have been very cost conscious and have worked hard to minimize costs, and to balance the advantages of implementing leading-edge technologies versus the relatively-higher, associated costs of being an early adopter of the technology.

WPI's President, Edward Parrish, our Board of Trustees, each of the Vice Presidents, and our university administrators are committed to developing a world-class networking infrastructure for its distributed campus and will devote the necessary resources, management and leadership to make it happen. We view the establishment of a high performance connection to the new Internet as critical to achieving our vision and strategic goals for research and education during the 21st century.

2. WPI's Proposed OC-3 Connection, Costs, and Cost-Sharing

Table F-1 on the next page details the connection costs to be shared between NSF and WPI for the high performance connection to the Abilene network at the Worcester point of presence. WPI is requesting a grant of $260,000 over a two-year period. The chart breaks out the contribution from NSF and WPI for each year of the grant and the grand total for NSF and WPI.

We propose that NSF pay for our Abilene annual registration cost ($20,000) and the Abilene connection fee ($110,000). This totals $130,000 for each year of the grant.

WPI will match these funds by purchasing a UCAID membership of $25,000 per year that allows us to participate in the Internet2 project. We will connect to the Abilene network, using a Qwest interconnection for $12,000 per year. These amounts remain constant for both years of the grant.

In addition, during the first year of the grant, WPI will obtain the following items: equipment to measure QoS, building ATM connections, 100 Mbit/s switched desktop connectivity for researchers, ATM connectivity to some meritorious researcher desktops, ATM multiplexer for the gigaPoP, and a UPS for ATM hardware. During the second year of the grant, WPI will purchase an ATM backbone expansion and continue building ATM connections, adding 100 Mbit/s switched desktop connectivity for researchers and ATM connectivity to meritorious researcher desktops.

Table F-1

3. Cost Justification and Effectiveness of the Proposed Network Connection

As noted above, WPI is highly motivated to contain cost. We have worked diligently, and in a thorough manner, to explore various strategies to minimize our costs for our high performance connection.

Some costs of our architecture are fixed and can't be negotiated. For instance, most costs directly associated with the Abilene network are fixed and non-negotiable: the annual registration fee, the OC-3 interconnection fee, and Qwest interconnection fee. These total $142,000 per year. The only remaining costs are those of obtaining the physical connection from the WPI campus to the Qwest Abilene network.

Therefore, we explored the possibility of connecting via the Boston Abilene gigaPoP but found the costs excessive due to the long distance involved (approximately 40 miles) and the fees associated with joining this PoP. We also talked with our current commodity Internet providers, BBN/GTE Internetworking, and Cable and Wireless to determine what options were available through them. There were none. We also talked to the local Qwest representative who was generally unaware of the process needed to connect to Abilene.

Next, we began to examine options available within the local Worcester area. We talked with Qwest corporate executives responsible for the Abilene project. They were able to provide us with contact information and additional data about their plans to establish a gigaPoP in Worcester. There is currently no Abilene/Internet2 gigaPoP available. We found Qwest receptive to our request to participate in the creation of a gigaPoP. We then looked to carriers who could connect us with the Qwest backbone.

We explored possibilities with Bell Atlantic, our local carrier, and obtained quotes of $55,978 per year for an OC-3 connection to a location approximately 5 miles distant. This rate appeared to be regulated by tariff, was not negotiable, and stated to be the lowest rate we could find. Although not directly related to this cost, or an offset to it, we found that the Bell Atlantic Foundation was receptive to considering a grant to WPI for other networking projects that were related to our Internet2 activities. Although attractive, this approach would not necessarily lower our total cost of our high performance connection project, and there was no guarantee at this time that we would, in fact, receive a grant.

WPI has been serving as an unpaid consultant to the City of Worcester and Chamber of Commerce to facilitate networking in Worcester. We were aware that the New England Electric Service Company (NEESCom) had established a fiber ring in Worcester that was, as yet, unused. We approached them with the concept of helping us establish a gigaPoP in Worcester. They were highly receptive and have agreed, in principle, to connect us to their existing fiber ring at the OC-3 level, and Qwest will connect the portion of the ring that we are using to the Abilene backbone at the OC-48 level. NEESCom will pay the costs for our OC-3 connection and will donate the use of the fiber ring to WPI. Furthermore, NEESCom will provide space in the NEESCom Exchange Building, their fiber interconnect point, to establish the gigaPoP. WPI will manage this activity in conjunction with NEESCom. In return, WPI will help lead an effort to bring the numerous other colleges and research institutions in the Worcester area onto the Abilene network. WPI and NEESCom will work together to establish policies, procedures, customer services and fees to make this service available.

In addition, Nortel Networks (Bay Networks) has agreed to partner with us on the project and to donate a high-performance, next-generation ATM router (BLN), ATM interface cards, cages with power supplies and a rack to our Internet2 project. The estimated value of this donation is in excess of $136,500. Nortel has also agreed to continue to donate a significant number of engineering hours to support our efforts to install, configure, operate, and maintain our advanced network and high performance connection. We have worked very well with them in the past and have an extremely productive and cordial working relationship.

We anticipate that high performance connectivity will vigorously stimulate WPI research and education activities that use networking. This will drive up our costs. We are planning to hire an additional network engineer, and staff to work with faculty to develop or implement Internet2 applications for collaborations, research and education. Our cost to handle commodity Internet traffic is also increasing at an alarming rate. We will explore ways to access unused bandwidth, when available, to route commodity traffic via the OC-3 connection, to Qwest's commodity Internet connection. However, we must re-route it at the point of entrance to Abilene to comply with its AUP. This will cut costs and more efficiently use our resources.

As you can see, WPI has worked very hard to explore alternative options, minimize our costs, maximize vendor donations, obtain the best network performance available to us at this time, plan to make connectivity widely available to the Worcester university and research communities, and to seek partners that have the same vision, goals and values as our university. We propose a highly cost-effective solution.

4. Collaboration and Community Service

Also relevant to our proposal is our ability to work with the Consortium of Worcester Colleges to bring high performance networking to Holy Cross College, Assumption College, Clark University and the 6 other local colleges and their intellectual collaborators. WPI is planning to establish itself as the local Internet2 gigaPoP to provide high-quality networking services to these colleges while minimizing our collective costs. This situation will also contribute to the emerging global network, and assist UCAID with its goal of bringing the next tier of American universities and colleges (those smaller than those participating today in Internet2) into the Internet2 fold. WPI is uniquely positioned to help with this mission and to evaluate the meaningfulness of high performance connectivity in the environment and context of smaller universities.

WPI is also a good community citizen. Our Vice President for Information Technology and networking staff are working with Worcester Chamber of Commerce and Worcester City Manager's office to provide technical engineering expertise and leadership to help bring low-cost networking to the citizens and businesses of Worcester. This demonstrates our commitment to the broader goals of ubiquitous networking for our community via the commodity Internet; our experiences in the Internet2 project will also aid this group as technology transfer occurs from the university community to the private sector.

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Last modified: Feb 28, 2005, 15:54 EST
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