Long awaited router change doubles Cybera’s network capacity

This summer, Cybera’s network team replaced our Calgary router (which had tirelessly served us and our members for over a decade) with a new one, effectively doubling our network capacity, increasing throughput, and creating a more orderly network system. But getting to this moment has been a looooong time coming.

Our Calgary router has been at Cybera longer than I have, and has been our most important piece of infrastructure, as it ties everything together.

In April 2020, our network team made the decision to upgrade it. We knew it was going to be a big endeavour, but I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the timeline of issues we’d run into:

  1. Supply chain issues impacting product availability
  2. Year-long vendor delays
  3. A resurgence in supply chain issues, delaying delivery by a further six months
  4. Having to coordinate member changes
  5. Decommissioning and removing older equipment
  6. Staffing changes causing a last minute shuffle in deployment responsibilities

Had we known what was coming, I’m not sure we would have even begun this project! But I’m glad we did, because now — 28 months after it was first proposed — we are now the proud operators of a new router.

With this upgraded equipment, we’re able to support multiple 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps connections between members and service providers. We have also been able to immediately condense some existing connections into single, higher capacity connections.

My admiration and gratitude for the team is probably equal to the relief that we were able to pull this off! I cannot thank them enough for all of the hard work they put into this.

Scott Baker, our project manager, juggled all of the non-technical work, kept tasks organized and on track, managed vendors, and worked with CANARIE to move this infrastructure forward. We’d have been going in five different directions at once if it wasn’t for him.

Harshiv Kaur and Mike Norton, though new to the network administration team, both hit the ground running, and did an excellent job preparing for the upgrade. Harshiv spent a number of evenings and weekends helping onsite in preparation, and showed an impressive dedication to this project.

I want to give special recognition to Zafar Yousufi, who has been a stalwart member of our network team for almost nine years. This project suddenly fell upon him, and he took it on without hesitation, spending six weeks tirelessly preparing. He did an amazing job and has my sincere thanks.

Finally, I’d like to thank CANARIE for providing the funding to make this project possible. Cybera is just one of 13 provincial and territorial partners who, together with CANARIE, form Canada’s National Research and Education Network, an essential collective of infrastructure, tools, and people that connect Canada’s researchers, educators and innovators to each other, and to data, technology and colleagues around the world.

With this new router, we will be able to increase our upstream connectivity to 100 Gbps or even 200 Gbps. This growth is vital for our member organizations, not only as they return to in-person operations (and thus naturally see an increase in bandwidth demands compared to the 2020-21 lull), but to meet the data hungry needs of modern learning, researching, and communication tools and services.