#Technology & Innovation

Hic sunt dracones

One of the questions that we get asked in the Network Development and Architecture team is “when are you going to deploy ‘thing they read about in the tech The w:Hunt–Lenox Globe, a copper globe created around 1510, and held by the Rare Book Division of w:New York Public Library. View of the side depicting Asia, cropped to show "Hic Sunt Dracones"’?” and the answer usually falls squarely into one of three distinct categories:

  1. We already have (e.g. IPv6, MPLS)
  2. We can do the same thing a different way (SD-WAN cloud connections)
  3. We did some evaluation and no-one wants it (anti-dragon paint)

There are of course sometimes when we’ve not got round to doing a full dive into the technology, usually, because it’s an incremental improvement on something we’ve already got deployed or we know deploying it is going to take considerable time/effort/money to launch it as a service so it’s currently sat in the same file drawer as the anti-dragon paint.

So I wanted to cover a few of the things sat in that pile that we’d like to launch after we’ve got the Janet Access Programme (JAP) finished (from a design and development point of view at least). If there’s anything that sparks an interest or that you’d like to be involved with, in the early phases then just drop me a line.

Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) – the ability to deploy software onto compute resource inside the Janet network and have some/all of your traffic pass through that virtual device – is something where we see some substantial benefit for members as we aggregate the demand and standard configurations saving both time and money for individual members. The changes we are making to the Janet Access Layer and our internal provisioning systems do mean that providing these services (once we work out what services member want) will be more straightforward. Jisc is also taking a lead in the Geant GN4-3 Workpackage 6 “Network Technologies & Services Development” and hoping to integrate outputs from that project into our work on in-network services.

IPv4 has nearly run out in the RIPE region (and even then the amount available from RIPE is tiny), additional addresses are available from ‘brokers’ at around $20 per IP. IPv6 is already available across the Janet network but there is a desire to move to a situation where IPv6 is the default delivery and IPv4 is only provided as an extra service for those that have no choice but to use it for legacy applications. For more details see Rob’s article about selling addresses for more details about selling your current address space.2

Lower speed connections are something that we get asked about regularly, whilst we can provide these today as part of the Telecommunications Framework, one of the benefits of the new JAP is the potential ability to use the Telephone Exchanges for the delivery of Openreach FTTP and FTTC based broadband services. To make sure that we have universal coverage Jisc would need to partner with another organisation to provide fill-in connections, once the JAP has a full design (i.e. we know the size of the fill-in required) complete work can begin on bringing such a solution to market (if there is enough member interest – hint if its something you really want/need then let us know).

Managed Firewall is currently something we’re looking at a number of different solutions to find something that works for everyone from the smallest College through to giant campus-based Universities. So far we’re concentrating on an edge-based device that sits on the premise allowing basic firewalling between zones within the site as well as between the site and the Internet. We’re also looking at using a more ‘centralised’ group of services that could act as a “firewall-in-the-cloud”1 using NFV.

So that covers a few of the things on my to-do list (you know, the items you get to and then something new then gets added at the top, always with greater urgency). As a member-focused organization if you have an urgent demand for any of these, want to suggest a new network-based product, or trial the anti-dragon paint then you can bug our friendly neighbourhood Connectivity Product Manager3 .

1blame marketing
2yes we’ve been doing IPv6 for a long time but people appear to have forgotten
3Lesley Ford


By James Blessing, post date 5th November 2019

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