SA research network now online

7 April 2008

The South African National Research Network (Sanren) reached a significant milestone last week when the first four research infrastructure sites went live in Johannesburg, representing a major step forward in the creation of an information and communications technology platform for South African research.

Teams from the Tertiary Education Network (Tenet), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and second landline operator Neotel have worked closely together to deploy the network.

In a statement last week, Neotel said the network marked a key change in the research and development community in South Africa, and was set to place local research and development on par with the best in the world.

The Sanren project is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology and managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Meraka Institute, while Sanren is providing the network equipment and Neotel is providing the optical fibre circuit to ensure a high capacity backbone for the Johannesburg ring.

Tenet currently secures internet services for South African universities and research institutions and provides operational services to Sanren, including national and international connectivity at the gateway, with operating costs being recovered by Tenet from the user institutions.

“We are pleased that our participation in the Sanren project is contributing to the ultimate success of an initiative that is of national importance,” said Neotel Enterprise Services head Stefano Mattiello. “This is our contribution to the research and development community in South Africa.”

Bandwidth key to development

“Access to high bandwidth is key in world-class research and development,” said Meraka Institute project engineer Christiaan Kuun. “This translates to providing significant network capacity to research institutions in South Africa.”

The research network is built upon the backbone of Neotel’s next generation network, which is flexible, scalable and custom made to the Sanren’s requirements.

The four sites, which include the main campuses of Wits and UJ, as well as UJ’s satellite campuses in Bunting and Doornfontein, are on a shared 10 gigabits-per-second ring network, which connects them to each other and to a major gateway site operated by Tenet and hosted by Internet Solutions in Johannesburg.

“Future plans are to make all Wits satellite campuses and the CSIR’s Johannesburg campus live at the same capacity,” Kuun said. “We also plan to upgrade the main campuses of Wits and UJ.”

Research and higher educational institutions across South Africa will be eventually become connected to the Sanren as the network expands.

“Tenet and the user institutions are delighted to work together with the the Department of Science and Technology and Meraka Institute on this exiting project that is reshaping research and education networking in South Africa,” said Tenet CEO Duncan Martin.

SAinfo reporter

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