Campus transition to Internet2 continues

Tim Horneman

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Internet2, a research-oriented group composed of universities, businesses and the government, recently added Marquette to its growing list of members. Marquette received a grant of $200,000 from the National Science Foundation to establish Internet2 on campus.

Marquette is currently planning for the transition to this network. The process has begun, but Internet2 is not yet operational on campus, according to Pankaj Shah, the director of infrastructute in information Technology Services and an expert on Internet2.

Internet2 is designed to improve research in the universities, using networks not open to the general public, according to Shah.

For example, if a person at Marquette wished to send information to another university signed up with Internet2, Shah said, the speed at which he could send the information would be much faster than using the regular Internet networks.

“What Internet2 does is cut out many ‘commodity,’ or public, Internet networks,” Shah said. When a school sends its information to another school through fewer networks, it makes it possible for that information to reach its destination in much shorter time. Since fewer users would be on the Internet2 networks, there would also be more availablity of bandwidth for those users, Shah explained.

However, Marquette students won’t notice any difference in their Internet speed, whether in residence hall rooms or at a library computer, according to Jon Pray, the associate vice provost for educational technology. Checking eMarq e-mail or visiting Internet sites such as Yahoo! or Google would be reached as usual. Instead, the technology would facilitate such things as video-conferencing between schools, Pray said.

Shah said that the Internet was originally intended for research and military purposes.

“However, when the general public started to use the Internet, everything slowed down, and we weren’t able to use the Internet as we wanted to,” Shah said. “So a consortium between about 100 universities was started to develop another network for research.”

Marquette applied to be a member when Internet2 was founded in 1997, but was initially turned down.

With the expansion of Internet2, Marquette again applied to join and was this time accepted, Shah said.

Instructors on campus have already developed research projects that will use Internet2.

Daniel Sem, an assistant professor in the chemistry department, said that he was involved with projects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He said that he is investigating small molecules that interact with proteins that bind estrogen, and his research would be important for breast cancer research and environmental research.

“I use the facilities at Madison in some of my experiments,” Sem said. “However, I would like to use Internet2 to be able to run my experiment from here. Only with the high-speed capabilities is this feasible.”