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April 15, 2010
BATON ROUGE, La., April 15 -- They already are connected geographically, but Louisiana and Arkansas are establishing an even more powerful connection between the states through high-speed, fiber optic networks. Powerful, regional networks will link faculty, staff and students at universities in Arkansas and Louisiana, allowing them to work together on major research projects in ways that previously were not possible.
The Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network, called ARE-ON, recently added the University of Central Arkansas to that state's high-speed, fiber optic network, which also will soon connect all four-year institutions in the "Natural State" into a highly motivated team. In so doing, ARE-ON has expanded its capabilities and is linked to more high-performance computing resources throughout the state.
While determining ARE-ON's setup, Arkansas campus leadership teams visited Louisiana institutions to observe the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, a high-speed, fiber optic network that connects supercomputing resources among six universities and the two LSU health sciences centers in state, and gain insight into the benefits and challenges of being connected to a regional optical network.
ARE-ON and LONI are very similar operations, and staff with both networks worked toward the goal of using these connections to enhance relationships between similar academic institutions in both states.
Faculty and students in Louisiana and Arkansas already share information such as grant opportunities frequently using listservs, Webinars, and individual communications. And, the University of Arkansas has been a participant in LSU Department of Computer Science Professor Thomas Sterling's "Introduction to High-Performance Computing" course, which is taught at LSU and broadcast using high-definition video streamed over LONI to other sites, since its inception in 2007. But, connecting universities through high-speed networks allows them to exchange even more information than before in real time.
These types of network connections allow users to transfer large amounts of data between sites faster and with fewer problems than a regular network connection, leading to greater opportunities for joint research projects and regional research collaborations.
"We created LONI to have a world-class, cutting-edge network here in Louisiana, which allows us to use modern computing technology to its full potential and advance breakthroughs for both academia and industry," said Donald Vandal, LONI executive director. "By establishing a connection with a similar network in a neighboring state, we are creating new opportunities for the Southern region to demonstrate leadership in technology-based research."
"The core function of any electronic network is to connect people, and in this context, Louisiana and Arkansas have initiated a partnership destined to positively impact the economic climate of both states," said Michael Abbiatti, ARE-ON executive director. "Having worked as a member of the team that created LONI and being a native Arkansan, I am honored to have played a small part in establishing such a powerful collaborative atmosphere in two states with such great potential."
Source: LSU Center for Computation & Technology
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