AUT's new core network pivotal to NZ space research

AUT's new core network pivotal to NZ space research

AUT monitors SpaceX Dragon and distributes IRASR telescope data using new Cisco-based technology.

AUT University has launched a new core network, which is already being used to monitor SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, and run day-to-day networking on its campuses.

AUT’s Institute of Radio Astronomy and Space Research (IRASR) is contracted to monitor up to 12 space missions a year for SpaceX, including the Dragon.

The Cisco-based network installed at the university’s City, North Shore, and Manukau campuses has been operational since the end of March. It connects the City Campus with AUT’s radio telescope site in Warkworth.

Using a 1 Gbps link, all data collected from the Warkworth radio telescopes is redirected to the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) via AUT, to Crown Research Institutes and other universities.

According to Roger Wanless, network and internet manager at AUT, the new core network will also be deployed throughout AUT's new education precinct in Auckland which will open in March 2013. The precinct will house the university's communications department, a television studio, and public spaces.

AUT has used Cisco technology for the last 11 years, including two refreshes, says Wanless. This latest refresh sees AUT becoming full owners of its network assets, instead of leasing them from Cisco.

“What this gives us is a lot more autonomy. We can make changes and adapt to our pace of technological change much easier,” says Wanless.

IBM won the RFP to take on the project, and provided project management support, datacentre equipment, and network management tools. Wanless says his team of nine and IBM worked closely on deploying the network. "It was getting the bost of both worlds. Getting internal control, and external expertise," says Wanless.

Asked if the new network is IPv6 ready, Wanless says it was a non-negotiable on the RFP. He adds that the university is only starting on its IPv6 "journey".

Wanless says he is unable to disclose the cost of the core network project.

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