SURA IT – 27 Years of
Collaborative Innovation

SURAnet – A Ground-Breaking Regional Network Initiative

By the mid-1980s it was clear that access to high-capacity computer resources was necessary to facilitate breakthrough scientific collaboration among SURA member institutions. A high-performance network to provide this access was essential, but no single institution could afford to develop such a system. Launched in 1988 with support from the NSF, SURAnet connected researchers across the Southeast to each other and to existing Federal and international networks.

AT&T GridFiber Agreement

The principal outcome of the SURA Regional Infrastructure Initiative was a partnership with AT&T that gave SURA access to AT&T’s national fiber optic infrastructure. Ending in 2008, the partnership with AT&T resulted in the deployment of AT&T dark fiber in Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Oregon and a crucial link between Chicago and Seattle serving the northern tier of the US, with advanced network services that would not have been possible otherwise. These network assets continue to be operated as part of the nation’s research and education network backbone.

Reshaping the National R&E Network Landscape

SURA played a key role in expanding the footprint of the National Lambda Rail (NLR) backbone that was very advantageous to the SURA region and to the nation as a whole.

SURA’s influence on the re-conceptualization of the NLR national backbone provided a much greater depth of connectivity options for the SURA region, particularly for Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma; putting the southeast on the national R&E network map, ensuring that our member institutions along the Gulf Coast had access to cutting edge network services at the lowest possible cost.

2006 – Present: AtlanticWave

SURA’s participation in NLR and access to NLR services from Florida to NYC facilitated the development of AtlanticWave. An important part of the global R&E network infrastructure, AtlanticWave provides 10 gigabit/sec interconnection and peering service between North and South America and supports research and education (R&E) collaborations between U.S. and Latin American such as the international ALMA project (Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array), an astronomical interferometer of radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

Middleware, Grid, and High Performance Computing

The Video Development Initiative (ViDe), created in partnership with the New York State Educational and Research Network (NYSERNet), grew into a national community of pioneers and developers of IP video conferencing technology, services and training.

SURA and seven other leading research institutions and organizations were awarded a total of $12 million over a three year period to participate in complementary NSF Cooperative Agreements spearheading the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI). SURA managed the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) Integration Testbed program comprised of eight institutions, deploying early releases of middleware products that provided feedback that informed the design and evolution of NMI middleware. The NMI Testbed Grid evolved into the SURAgrid collaboration. With continuing support from SURA, SURAgrid grew substantially between 2005 and 2010 into a significant regional initiative focused on the development of grid technologies as a mechanism to share access to institutional high performance computing systems.

Click here for the complete history of SURA IT initiatives.