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ORIENTplus upgrade supercharges EU-China collaborative research and education

Running between Beijing and London, ORIENTplus offers the shortest and fastest network route between the two regions, enabling innovative EU-China R&E collaborations to flourish. This trans-continental link connects the Chinese national research and education networks (NRENS) CERNET and CSTNET to the 40 million users of the pan-European GANT network. Jointly funded until 2014 by the European Union's FP7 programme, the Chinese government and European and Chinese NRENs, the project is coordinated by research networking organisation DANTE.

At the beginning of this year, the link capacity quadrupled from 2.5 Gbps of the predecessor project ORIENT to 10 Gbps to keep pace with increased user demand. "We very much welcome this upgrade. It is a fine example of the European Union, China and NRENs in both regions being committed to working together to provide world-class e-Infrastructure for world-class research and education", said Mr Kostas Glinos, Head of Unit e-Infrastructure, DG Connect at the European Commission.

"The growing research and technology development programmes as well as academic collaborations between China and Europe mean that there is a clear need for high-capacity connectivity to be further developed. This collaboration is more than just an Internet link. It connects our research communities and universities, bringing the best minds together", commented Mr Shen Yang, Minister Counsellor for Education, Embassy of the People's Republic of China in London.

ORIENTplus underpins a wide range of data-intensive and/or time-critical scientific collaborations between Europe and China including participation in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ITER global energy fusion programmes, cosmic ray observation, radio-astronomy and Life Sciences projects. It also enables real-time, interactive knowledge transfer through innovative e-learning tools, such as stable, jitter-free videoconferencing.

Dr Ewan Birney, Associate Director at EBI-EMBL, explained how ORIENTplus is contributing to genome projects between the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI),: "Biology is producing incredible amounts of new experimental data every day, which is a goldmine for researchers but presents a new set of engineering challenges for the life sciences. The data we're generating is approaching the scale of CERN's Large Hadron Collider - only one order of magnitude smaller. Now more than ever, we need robust networks, scalable storage and fast compute so that we can realise the opportunities these data provide."

Dr Huib Jan van Langevelde, Director at the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE), confirmed the importance of high-capacity connectivity for the radio-astronomy community: ""With this new direct link we are getting ready to connect more Chinese telescopes at higher bandwidth. Together, European and Asian telescopes offer astronomers the most accurate tool to observe the sky."

The new ORIENTplus connection operates in hybrid mode and can thus carry both IP and point-to-point traffic. In addition to the upgraded link capacity, dynamic point-to-point links will allow the project partners to support user communities with special networking requirements in a more flexible way.

Furthermore, vital research collaborations will be safeguarded through a recent mutual around-the- globe backup agreement between ORIENTplus, CERNET, Internet2 and TransPAC3 which guarantees network resilience and IP service availability by automatically re-routing the traffic via the US in the event of outages or cable cuts.

The ORIENTplus launch event is sponsored by China Unicom Europe.


Contact: Tamsin Henderson
DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe)

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