Minnesota Strengthens Redundancy With Network Overhaul

Minnesota aims to consolidate it's data center to gain more network traffic.

Governments overhaul networks to boost bandwidth.

Data center consolidation creates more network traffic, and many organizations struggle to provide enough bandwidth to users accessing centralized applications. That’s what’s driving some states to deploy Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gig-E and Multi Protocol Label Switching networks.

Data center consolidation creates more network traffic, and many organizations struggle to provide enough bandwidth to users accessing centralized applications. That’s what’s driving some states to deploy Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gig-E and Multi Protocol Label Switching networks.

 

Governments overhaul networks to boost bandwidth.

Data center consolidation creates more network traffic, and many organizations struggle to provide enough bandwidth to users accessing centralized applications. That’s what’s driving some states to deploy Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gig-E and Multi Protocol Label Switching networks.

As California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas consolidate and upgrade their networks, they’re investing in high-speed switches, adapters and other network gear.

“We’re using the Illinois Century Network to drive infrastructure consolidation,” says Doug Kasamis, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. “The next generation of consolidation is on the application portfolio side, and web-centric applications will be enabled through ICN.”

State agencies aren’t the only beneficiaries from these network upgrades. Often, counties, cities, libraries, hospitals, universities and K–12 schools throughout the state can tap these high-speed backbones. What’s more, high-speed wide area networks act as economic-development engines for the states that have deployed them, notes Sharon Montgomery, vice president of Qwest’s Government and Education Services.

High-speed backbones offer potential savings in the future, too, because they enable states to deploy videoconferencing and telecommuting to reduce their travel budgets and energy usage.

Minnesota Strengthens Redundancy

Minnesota’s Network for Enterprise Telecommunications (MNET) will be more resilient by the end of the year, when the state completes an 18-month effort to improve router and carrier diversity across its backbone network.

Carrying voice, data and video services via Multi Protocol Label Switching, MNET supports all state agencies, counties, the state college system, many cities and one-fourth of Minnesota’s K–12 schools. The state relies on leased lines from a variety of carriers, including Charter Communications, Qwest and US Cable.

Altogether, MNET has more than 1,000 routed devices and ranges from 155 megabits per second to 10 gigabits per second. Now each of MNET’s 26 hubs will have two paths for network traffic.

“In some cases, we had the same carrier in and out of a hub. A well-placed backhoe on a bad day could do some damage,” says Jim Johnson, director of network services for Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology. “A day without Internet for any major university is an extremely bad day.…That’s why we’re trying to get physical separation as far into the network as we can.”

Johnson says the redundancy project didn’t add much to MNET’s $2.2 million annual budget. “For the most part, we’ve been able to leverage a lot of contracts and not significantly increase the backbone costs,” Johnson says. “Our story is pretty simple. We know that we can save money by pushing bandwidth out and by creating more local aggregation points.”

Minnesota continues to move to Ethernet services, including Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gig-E links.

“The biggest benefit of Ethernet is being able to scale that bandwidth. Without having to change major infrastructure pieces out, we can grow local loop or local connections,” Johnson says.

Voices

“We’re moving to statewide [human resources], accounting, timekeeping and Medicare network applications. If we didn’t have the increased bandwidth, we couldn’t run them.”

—Doug Kasamis, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services

“We’ve got 15,000 IP phones and 800 call center agents that we centrally manage but distribute across the network.”

—Jim Johnson, director of network services, Office of Enterprise Technology for the state of Minnesota

“We see more network consolidation and convergence and more requirements for bandwidth. That’s pushing agencies toward MPLS, Ethernet and Voice over IP.”

—Sharon Montgomery, vice president of Qwest’s Government and Education Services

By the Numbers

$7 billion

Estimated 2008 state and local spending for telecom products and services, according to FSI

10%

How much bandwidth demand has grown this year for the Minnesota Network for Enterprise Telecommunications (MNET)

$7 million

The amount of money that the state of Illinois is saving each year through network consolidation

$276,707,845

The amount California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation plans to spend over the next two years to expand its network

4

The number of task orders executed during the past two years under the Colorado Integrated Communications Network (CICN), a unified IP-based communications architecture

Sep 30 2008