Medical research was pulled into the spotlight during the Covid 19 pandemic, especially as global efforts to learn more about the virus and identify a vaccine intensified. Scientists worked quickly, alongside their international colleagues, sharing large data sets. And with travel restrictions, researchers relied heavily on online collaboration tools to exchange bio-data, pandemic analysis and insights with fellow researchers. In particular, researchers and scientists heavily relied on National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to support this demand of advanced research, communication and collaboration, to aid their search for a vaccine as well as support other global scientific projects and discoveries.

Carrying petabytes of data, the Research Education Advanced Network of New Zealand (REANNZ) connects New Zealand’s researchers to the rest of the world. It is part of a global community of over 120 countries, who work together to support and enable collaboration between research organisations around the world.

a man holding a tablet looking at a row of computer servers

Supporting the Unique Network Needs for Research

Among the many members of REANNZ are data-intensive researchers who use the network to collaborate and access data from international research libraries and renowned specialists with knowledge that transcends national borders. Additionally, there are researchers and organisations, who stream traffic in real or near to real time.

REANNZ ran a robust tender in 2022 to find an infrastructure partner capable of helping futureproof their network, improve its resiliency and ensure it remains scalable to meet surging bandwidth demands. Winning the tender was One NZ (previously known as Vodafone New Zealand), who will provide a diverse, transparent, and flexible network between its Points of Presence (PoPs) around the country.

This network uses Ciena’s 6500 powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) programmable 800Gbps coherent technology. WL5e improves optical network performance and optimizes power utilisation in One NZ’s optical network. WL5e transponders with 400GE client interfaces are offered in the same physical footprint as previous generation transponders with 100GE client interfaces, offering REANNZ a sustainable upgrade path without compromising on any physical restrictions.

Pursuing a Seamless Migration Path

Because of users such as GNS Science, who track New Zealand’s geological movements constantly, it was important that the REANNZ migration have limited impact on the network and that risks associated with isolating a PoP are mitigated. Given New Zealand’s propensity for wild weather patterns, it was also important for One NZ to be able to quickly provide an alternate connectivity path should there be a fault due to a natural disaster.

One NZ is migrating REANNZ from a fixed-to flex-grid network architecture, enabling REANNZ to take advantage of the significant capacity, optical spectrum efficiency improvements and cost-per-bit reductions associated with next-generation, higher-baud coherent optical technology. Additionally, as part of 6500, the Layer 0 Control Plane software provided REANNZ with the freedom to make changes to bandwidth profiles based on specific demand and to offer different service levels to meet end-user requirements. This fluid approach to optical spectrum optimisation enables the REANNZ network to rapidly adapt to problems and outages due to tempestuous weather, maintenance issues, and changing business needs, rerouting capacity as needed without affecting day to day operations.

“Our advanced network connects researchers and educators, wherever they are – helping them to create, innovate and important discoveries, and collaborate with their global peers. Of course, to do this well, we need excellent infrastructure and innovative partners,” said REANNZ’s Chief Executive Amber McEwen.

“Our partnership with One NZ makes our network more resilient, more flexible and more accessible to researchers and educators, wherever they are. Together, we are enriching New Zealand’s global leadership in research and education.”

For more details on the Ciena-One NZ collaboration, please refer to the press release. You can also learn more about New Zealand’s new advanced research and education network here.