FUNET 2020 – Data network modernisation project ensures effective and seamless data connections

Funet 2020 is a modernisation project for the network which began with a period of preparatory work carried out in spring 2016. The project seeks to ensure for the coming years the coverage, capacity, data security and service reliability of the Funet network and its services as well as keeping service capacity up-to-date in relation to the growing and diversifying demands on the network.

The Funet (Finnish University and Research Network) communication network has been built for the needs of higher education institutions and the research community. It serves around 80 organisations and approximately 370,000 users connected with Finnish research, teaching, and higher education institutions.

The foundational task of the Funet network is to offer uncongested, reliable and cost-effective connections between users, with the public Internet, and with worldwide research networks (such as the Nordic NORDUnet and the European GÉANT). The wireless international roaming service eduroam is also one of the Funet services in Finland. Funet is able to flexibly implement online components such as high-capacity connections and different kinds of combined services.

One of Funet services is eduroam, an international roaming access service.

One key reason for the project is the increasing importance of networks and connections and, as a result of this, the increasing usability demands. Digitalisation has also meant that IT services have become a multi-supplier environment where the data network needs to support the seamless integration of different operators. Developments that have been taken into account in the project include the growth in the number of centralised services among Funet organisations and the decrease in the number of service points.

The network development project was initiated by first surveying the needs of Funet organisations' connection services. In addition to technological requirements, administrative needs and other requirements were also considered during 2016 through the work of the Future of Funet working group established by the IT administration and ICT steering group.

After the needs survey was complete, the next stage was to map out the options for implementing the technological and administrative components. Based on the results of this, a proposal was formed for the goal state of the FUNET 2020 network and its services, and this then formed the basis for agreeing on the target system architecture and the roadmap.

Based on the surveyed customer needs, cost comparisons and technical analysis, the option chosen involved IP/MPLS technology and a separate transport network. The strengths of this solution are its overall cost effectiveness, flexible connection options, and implementations that ensure usability and immediacy. In addition, the network enables high-capacity connections of several hundred gigabits. The solution also took account of the breadth of the range of services and of connections to external cloud service providers and content providers.

The current Funet network has already been in use for a long time. The timing for this modernisation project has taken into account the renewal of fibre-optic agreements for updating backbone connections and the need for network equipment updates.  Choices made for the backbone network are generally made for the long-term, and network update projects usually span a number of years. Indeed, the implementation of the FUNET 2020 project itself is set to extend until 2022.

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Funet Services

Eduroam Roaming Access Service

The network that linked Finland to internet is updating: digitalizing routines at higher education institutions rely increasingly on a reliable high-speed network