How REANNZ Connects

Global NRENs connect to each other, forming regional partnerships and international communities that promote research collaboration.

REANNZ exists to connect. This connection is physical, linking New Zealand to countries around the globe through kilometres of fibre optic cable beneath the sea, but it’s also a connection of ideas and expertise. REANNZ partners with other NRENs to connect scientific enterprises together, providing researchers with access to the infrastructure and resources they need to impact the world through their findings.

Why NRENs exist

A National Research Education Network is an essential piece of infrastructure for any country. It’s a high-speed, specialist network, that links Universities, research organisations and industries together.

REANNZ was established to support New Zealand’s globally competitive science and research. Almost every form of research requires data transfer. While this is possible through traditional connection methods and the Internet for some fields of research, the data volumes involved in data and compute intensive fields are ever increasing.

In 2020 Auckland University of Technology researchers put the network to the test to see if it would be possible, by using an FPGA card, custom software and the network, to directly transfer raw data at line rate straight into GPUs (graphics processing units), where the data could then be analysed in real time before being sent on to storage. This was a part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world’s largest radio telescope which combines radio arrays in seven countries to precisely map the Milky Way.

Huge data loads like those involved in the SKA and other major research projects need specialist equipment. NRENs use leading edge hardware and technologies that are all linked together through hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cable, to provide ultra-high-speed connections to research organisations, optimising transfer times and enhancing workflows, all at lightning speed. Sending data from Auckland to Sydney across the REANNZ network can currently be as fast as 27ms – less time than it takes for the human eye to blink.

 

How and why REANNZ interacts with NRENs

Part of making New Zealand’s research globally accessible is cooperating with other research facilities around the world. To do this, NRENs need to connect to each other, forming regional partnerships that promote research collaboration.

The Asia Pacific Oceania network (APOnet) is a partnership of 11 NRENs that connects East Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North America. This partnership helps users collaborate on an international scale through direct connections between these countries. These interconnected networks have custom pathways and protocols to protect against network failures, provide added resiliency and speed up data transfers. These NRENs are also not for profit, meaning they work solely to bring value to their communities.

But NRENs are more than their physical connections of fibre and hardware. NRENs use their partnerships as bridges for the research community. REANNZ is part of the Australasian eResearch Organisation (AERO). This group meets with Universities, high-performance computing centres and other NRENs to work together to make research collaboration easier, tackling technical issues and making connections between the people that make it all happen. This includes participating in and organising events like eResearch NZ and eResearch Australasia, where researchers, data experts and engineers all meet to share their methods and celebrate their successes. NREN’s empower their users by managing the complex, technical operations of providing a specialist network behind the scenes, so that more time can be dedicated to facilitating the networks use with training, knowledge sharing and solutions that support their data needs.

In February 2021, REANNZ partnered with NeSI (New Zealand eScience Infrastructure) and Genomics Aotearoa to host eResearch NZ. The annual conference took place both in-person and online for the first time, bringing communities in New Zealand and overseas together. The conference sessions considered the importance of communication through data, be that through the live genomics sequencing that informed New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and the efforts across the sector that supported it, through to storytelling with data and the creative ways that researchers can communicate their findings. The partnerships that come together to both host and participate in events like these, help to foster a collaborative research ecosystem. These events occur on both a national and international scale, helping researchers from around the world to learn from each other while also connecting with the services and the people that help to make global research collaboration possible.

Collaboration is key

All NREN’s have a shared objective, to connect. Be that at a people level or an infrastructure level, research is only possible through collaboration and sharing ideas.

A collaboration between three international high-performance computing centres made use of this global infrastructure, working together to share earthquake mapping and simulations. The team at QuakeCoRE, New Zealand’s Centre for Earthquake Resilience, formed international partnerships with the high-performance computing facilities (HPC) facilities TACC in the United States and KISTI in South Korea.

This international collaboration involved data transfers between participating supercomputer centres in each country to adapt an existing data pipeline from these two different HPCs to QuakeCoRE’s model. The team at QuakeCoRE used KISTI’s Nurion supercomputer to simulate 20,000 New Zealand earthquake scenarios, while assisting South Korean researchers to set up the NZ-made workflow for their own earthquake analysis.

These large datasets moving regularly between each facility flowed efficiently across REANNZ but would have been slow and impractical if the team were use a standard internet connection. Collaborations like these are why the underlying infrastructure supported by NREN’s and collaborative nature of the global eResearch community are both vital to enabling impactful research outcomes.

Case Studies
Find more examples of how REANNZ members use our network and services.

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