For 20 years, I-Light has been Indiana’s high-speed fiber optic research and education (R&E) network. Today, through operations managed at IU, I-Light provides reliable connectivity to nearly every college and university campus in the state.
Serving Indiana’s R&E Community
The I-Light network connects its 40+ member institutions seamlessly to each other as well as to the Indiana GigaPOP, which gives them access to national and international R&E networks and enables collaborative research with partners across the country and around the world.
Beyond network connectivity, I-Light’s member institutions receive:
- High-quality video connections
- Access to supercomputers and scientific data storage
- Responsive, expert support
Close, collaborative relationships among members and with vendor partners are vital to the highest quality of services that I-Light provides to colleges and universities, state government, and public media in the state of Indiana. I-Light enables high-quality lives through high-quality connections.
Responding to pandemic
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Indiana’s I-Light network to shift its staff and operations to remote locations. Amid the uncertainties and challenges that unfolded across the state and world, I-Light has maintained the highest level of connectivity and uninterrupted operation of the Indiana GigaPOP. I-Light has also remained steadfast in support of its member institutions and Indiana’s research and education community.
Throughout the global health crisis, I-Light delivered services that allowed for teaching and learning to continue across the state and beyond, from people’s homes and on reconfigured, reduced campuses.
I-Light and the Indiana GigaPOP are also proud of additional accomplishments in 2020, including:
Delivering on commitment to high-capacity, fault-tolerant networks supporting scientific drivers and general network usage through boosted capacity and redundancy to Chicago
Chicago is a key location for connecting to various networks at the national and regional level, serving important relationships among Internet2, Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), and Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN).
After identifying the need for greater capacity and redundancy to Chicago, I-Light and the Indiana GigaPOP launched a project that will leverage I-Light’s optical infrastructure to provide a fully diverse path from Monon400, also facilitating a fully diverse ring between Indianapolis and Chicago. The ring will start with 400G capacity and allow for future growth to 800G or higher. The increased capacity will put Indiana GigaPOP in the position to be the first connector to Internet2 at 400G, redundantly between Chicago and Indianapolis.
Expanding automation solutions
I-Light and Indiana GigaPOP are currently using and continuing to develop automation solutions in their networks. Current automation in these networks has already contributed to increased consistency within the infrastructure's configuration and routing policy. Ongoing automation development is targeting efficiency and repeatability within I-Light member connectivity services such as commodity and R&E connectivity, GlobalNOC VPN, and L2 connectivity services.
Increasing eduroam usage across the I-Light community
eduroam is a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. It provides connectivity from thousands of hotspots in 100+ countries. With their own credentials, students, researchers, and staff from participating institutions can use eduroam for internet connectivity on campus and when visiting other participating institutions.
I-Light offers eduroam as a service to its members. In 2020, Brad McCoy, I-Light’s manager of educational broadband service (EBS) collaboration and engagement, led an effort to increase eduroam usage across Indiana. Brad has helped a number of I-Light’s member institutions to turn up eduroam on their campus.
Boosting member engagement
Community engagement has always been a high priority for I-Light. While the pandemic has changed the way I-Light meets members’ needs, it did not change the high value I-Light places on member support or engagement—indeed COVID-19 reinforced those values again and again.
I-Light began 2020 with plans to bolster collaboration and engagement among its members. These new efforts included establishing the Network Advisory Council (NAC) to give members more agency and a greater voice in directing how the network grows.
Additionally, I-Light began holding monthly town halls to provide members with more opportunities to connect and collaborate with each other as well as to communicate on an ongoing basis with I-Light leadership about what individual institutions need from their research and education network.
The inaugural town hall was held on January 26, 2021 via Zoom. Topics have included the National Science Foundation (NSF) cyber-security solicitations, security concerns and security operations center (SOC) interest at the campus level, resilient and back-up connectivity for campuses, challenges member institutions are facing during the pandemic, and how the challenges are being addressed.
COVID-19 tested but did not thwart goals for increasing member engagement. Recognizing that connections among its community were all the more critical during a global health crisis, I-Light pivoted to new approaches and virtual platforms.
Lighting a new fiber route to Chicago
I-Light will be lighting its new fiber route into Chicago in the coming months.
Piloting cybersecurity services for members
In 2021, the Indiana GigaPOP and I-Light will be piloting OmniSOC services for its members. This pilot will provide security monitoring and threat intelligence, along with a shared security engineer to assist members responding to security incidents on their campuses.
Strengthening member engagement
I-Light will continue hosting monthly town hall meetings with its members to provide a conduit for feedback and discussion on new service offerings.