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06/15/2005 - VPnet Projects Take Off

VPnet President Steve Trabun presented the network’s second annual progress report at the SITSA (Spokane Information Technology SIG Alliance) meeting at SIRTI last Tuesday. In the first year, VPnet concentrated on building its infrastructure. The second year, VPnet expanded, further perfected its infrastructure, and nurtured several projects using VPnet. There are several current projects which include CopyCat Captions, and the distributed music project who also presented at the meeting. (For more about CopyCat Captions, visit www.terabytetriangle.com/index.php/id=5&article_ID=256. For more about the distributed music project, visit www.terabytetriangle.com/index.php/id=5&article_ID=290.)

The purpose of VPnet is access to a consortium and a physical network dedicated to education, research, and new technology incubation -- a consortium of prominent faculty, researchers, scientists, and innovators --all connected by an advanced fiber network.

In the past year, all fifteen VPnet nodes were connected using Cisco end-to-end technology. All of the nodes were then integrated between VPnet and its member campuses. Network traffic monitoring and management were implemented using Denika performance monitoring tools.

VPnet was based on generous in-kind donations by Avista Corp and Columbia Fiber Solutions, but in terms of cash, it was built “on a shoestring,” according to Trabun. Funds for upgrades are being sought. VPnet is incorporated as a nonprofit, and is seeking 501(c)(3) status. Management is applying for federal appropriations for VPnet upgrades in security, redundancy, and bandwidth guarantees. They are seeking funds for increasing bandwidth, and for applications and tools that provide additional value. Further, VPnet is seeking Microsoft software donations for collaboration software.

VPnet is also seeking new members. The Liberty Lake Internet Exchange (LLIX) is the newest member to join the VPnet consortium. LLIX provides data center services, business continuity and disaster recovery, hosting, and co-location services. “We are thrilled to have LLIX as part of the VPnet membership”, says Trabun. “LLIX brings tremendous value to the consortium by providing our members with direct access to their business continuity services.” LLIX is currently in the process of exploring the implementation of a parallel computing cluster, which would be a great asset for researchers in the region.

"In a short amount of time, the VPnet Consortium has established a solid foundation for private-public collaboration among higher education, medical, R&D, and corporate partners like us,” says Bernard Daines, Chairman of Linux Networx and LLIX principal. VPnet hopes to add five to seven new members per year.

Billie Moreland
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