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OSHEAN's Advanced IP Service Infrastructure Provides CCRI with Multi-Campus Network and the Ability to Aggregate Bandwidth Across all Campuses


As the largest community college in New England, more than 60,000 graduates call the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) their alma mater. By providing open access to higher education to recent high school graduates and adult learners, CCRI gives students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for intellectual, professional and personal growth through an array of academic, career and lifelong learning programs offered as part of more than 80 degree and certificate programs.

Approaching its 50th anniversary in 2014-15, the organization sought to upgrade its network infrastructure to provide increased access for Internet1, Internet2, NEREN and Ethernet WAN Services. As an active OSHEAN member, CCRI chose OSHEAN for the project as the organization was already very familiar with the intricacies of CCRI's network from a design, configuration and maintenance perspective.

The upgraded CCRI OSHEAN network connects the four main campuses of CCRI (Warwick, Lincoln, Providence and Newport) and features an advanced IP service infrastructure based on the Beacon 2.0 network to deliver:

  • High bandwidth direct fiber transport to all CCRI main campuses
  • Site to site VPLS networking
  • Site to site VPLS to other member sites such as URI, The Rhode Island State Data Center, K-12 schools etc.
  • Access to Internet2 and the Northeast Research and Education Network (NEREN)
  • On-Net commercial peering and Akamai caching for high bandwidth apps like Apple iOS, Microsoft updates, Netflix etc.

OSHEAN offers a unique service that provides CCRI with a private fiber optic mesh topology Ethernet WAN, with an aggregate 20Gbps of bandwidth that can be dynamically subdivided and allocated among all existing and future end point locations. This advanced IP service architecture enables CCRI to subdivide and reallocate the total aggregate bandwidth on an as-needed basis to locations including all four CCRI campuses, all Rhode Island public and private higher education institutions, the Rhode Island State Department of Administration Division of Information Technology State Data Center in Warwick, and all public, municipal and state agencies. CCRI can choose how much bandwidth is assigned to each of the sites and services they desire - and can change those assignments at a moment's notice to allocate bandwidth wherever it is needed most.

Figure 1: CCRI OSHEAN Network Diagram

Figure 1: CCRI OSHEAN Network Diagram

“OSHEAN provides an integrated user-customized solution with single source responsibility for an extremely complex CCRI environment that must support the critical business and academic functions of the college,” said Bruce Barrett, director of Networking at CCRI. “Networks like the one that OSHEAN has built at CCRI endure constant change and it is essential to have the experience that OSHEAN provides in order to continually introduce new services to CCRI.”

Private Peering

CCRI is able to access private peering via OSHEAN’s Enriched Internet Services, which accounts for approximately 25-30% of traffic that would typically route over the Internet. OSHEAN has the ability to keep this traffic “On-Net” for better performance and cost savings as its peering partners have networks directly connected to the existing WAN -- and do not require external connectivity through Internet1, Internet2 or any other entity. This means that traffic stays local and does not cross the Internet; it is simply switched through OSHEAN routers. Examples of OSHEAN’s peering capabilities include Netflix, ESPN Research, Akamai caching servers, access to other OSHEAN members (such as hospitals and specialty external health organizations), NoX Member and Internet2.

The OSHEAN Beacon 2.0 Network also includes the ability to seamlessly integrate (without crossing the Internet) one or more 1G virtual circuits to the existing Northeast Research and Education Network (NEREN) backbone that services Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. This is an added benefit to Beacon 2.0 members and is provided to CCRI as part of the 20Gbps aggregate bandwidth model.

Redundancy, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The Beacon 2.0 Network is designed to provide an unparalleled level of redundancy and availability to ensure business continuity, and enables members like CCRI to quickly recover in the event of a disaster. Each CCRI site connected to Beacon 2.0 has redundant aggregation points capable of re-routing in the event of failure to either aggregation point with a primary (active) and standby (protect) path. OSHEAN core routers are located in multiple locations and a single router failure cannot cause a network outage. OSHEAN core routers are also connected to multiple commercial peering points from multiple vendors to provide maximum performance and resiliency. The strategy of OSHEAN utilizing multiple ISP’s guarantees optimal competitive pricing, redundant functionality in the event of failure of any one ISP, and load balancing among ISPs to maximize performance.

With the OSHEAN VPLS Layer 2 technology and dynamic reallocation of bandwidth, CCRI is able to create a mesh technology between its four campuses and the State Data Center that will provide alternating circuit path rerouting in the event of the failure of any primary circuits at any campus location.

The OSHEAN solution also allows CCRI to have its Internet access be fully backed up by providing a secondary ISP peering session for a disaster recovery/secondary site capable of the full subscription rate. For example, the Lincoln Campus location can act as an automated backup facility for the primary Internet access out of Warwick.

The OSHEAN Network Operations Center (NOC) (based in Rhode Island), operates 24x7x365 with vast experience monitoring circuits, equipment status and engaging appropriate resources in order to resolve issues that impact performance. In fact, the OSHEAN NOC is often aware of network and equipment related issues before third-party transport providers.


As a Research and Education Network (REN), OSHEAN is qualified to provide direct access to Internet2. Internet2 provides CCRI access to NET+ services, which gives Internet2 members and other participating institutions access to an ever-growing catalog of cloud-based services designed or tailored specifically for the research and education community. This includes Internet2 public cloud services such as, Amazon Web Services, Lecture Tools, etc. and access to Aastra/level3 hosted PBX and SIP phone services. These services are all delivered over the Internet2 high performance network and leverage the secure and privacy-preserving InCommon federated identity management services.

These services would otherwise not be cost effective for CCRI due to the expense of getting to the location of these cloud services. In addition, traffic to other Internet2 locations does not have to use Internet1. This reduces Internet1 costs, enhances security and offers better performance.

The Internet2 network also serves as a backup network to other Internet1 nodes in the event of a local or regional failure of the Internet1 network.

The OSHEAN Community

As an active member of the OSHEAN community, CCRI enjoys the benefits of collaborating with other higher education institutions in the region, as well as other members. CCRI also has the opportunity to actively participate in OSHEAN’s strategic direction in terms of resource allocation, technology selection and budget planning, similar to the governance practiced within the college itself. By utilizing the collective expertise of its membership, OSHEAN is able to adopt new effective technologies that offer cost savings and functional opportunities to members that would not be possible in a multi-layer corporate environment that is primarily obligated to its stockholders versus a vested membership.

“One of OSHEAN’s strongest values as a consortium is the opportunity for members to share expertise and resources with other peer members,” added Barrett.

An example of resource sharing is the collaboration between CCRI and the State Data Center (which is also an OSHEAN member) with the relocation of the college IT systems architecture to the state facility. This peering arrangement was possible using the existing intra-member vLAN with bandwidth relocated from the CCRI WAN. The initial 1G circuit is capable of being increased up to 10G on an as needed basis to support SANS to SANS data replication. The existing Internet connection to the CCRI Warwick campus can also be subdivided and dynamically reallocated to the State Data Center facility in the event of unavailability at the Warwick campus.

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