Backblaze Plugs Into Internet2

A decorative images showing the Internet2 logo.

Who doesn’t love a sequel? From Star Wars to the Godfather, some of the best moments in storytelling have been part twos. (Let’s not talk about some of those part threes though.) And, if you were to write a sequel to The Internet, you couldn’t look for a better second chapter than a mission to support the technical and networking needs of leading academic and research organizations.  

Well, Internet2 is not actually a sequel, and it’s not a new version of the internet we all use every day. It’s an organization dedicated to delivering technical solutions and dedicated, high speed connectivity to institutions—ranging from the Smithsonian to Harvard and 330 other colleges, universities, regional research and education networks, nonprofit and government organizations, and more—who are working to solve today’s most pressing issues.

And today, Backblaze joined the Internet2 community to help further their mission. Here’s what that means:

  • First and foremost, the Backblaze Storage Cloud now connects to Internet2’s network as part of the Internet2 Peer Exchange (I2PX) program. This means that members of Internet2 can now move data into and out of Backblaze’s US-West region at incredibly high speeds.
  • Second, Backblaze also completed the Internet2 Cloud Scorecard to offer research and educational institutions relevant details about Backblaze’s security, compliance, and technology specifications, making it easier to assess and procure our solutions.

Hundreds of institutions in the higher education and research space already use Backblaze for storing and using their data and protecting their endpoints. However, many others require data transmission via Internet2 for new cloud solutions. For these folks, Backblaze’s participation in Internet2’s community and I2PX program provides secure data storage with less latency and a lower cost for their data needs.

What type of data are we talking about? Think genetic sequencing records, billions of vector data points to help model and forecast weather events, or images of particle collisions at the subatomic level! 

The Backblaze team is incredibly excited to take this step forward in serving the different use cases that Internet2 supports. And of course, in addition to being a part of the Internet2 community, we’re always excited to add more high-quality peering relationships to our wider network (and to share some stats about it, too) . 

How big is the Internet2 network? Take a look below.

Now, let’s dig into how Internet2 creates high speed data transfer pathways, and how it will impact traffic here at Backblaze.

Our Connection

The diagram below gives you an idea of what the data path looks like for someone on the left with direct connectivity to Internet2 or access via a regional provider reaching the Backblaze US-West region.

The entities on the left could exist locally in California or as far as the U.S. East Coast. At any source location, the traffic will transport the Internet2 network and then enter our network in our common peering point in San Jose, CA.

Turning Up The Peering Session

Below is a chart of ingress traffic that was once reaching us over the public internet and is now taking the preferred path over Internet2. As soon as we established peering we started to receive a few gigabits per second of traffic, with large spikes occurring overnight.

Whenever we add a new service or peer, the flow of information in our network changes. This latest addition creates more interesting traffic patterns for our Network Engineering team to profile, monitor, and capacity plan for.

An Example of How that Speed Is Used: Moving Scientific Data

If you’re a scientist in Texas and want to send your 50TB research set quickly and reliably to a partner in California, you might only have a commercial connection to the internet. This could be a 1Gbps or smaller connection, and even that could have data transfer limits on each month—oh no. Our 50TB example dataset would take over 4.6 days to complete and use 100% of the available bandwidth if we were limited to 1Gbps (assuming perfect conditions and no latency).

The Internet2 network is built with capacity in mind. With backbone links up to 400Gbps, our example dataset would transfer in 16.7 minutes. Now, there are other limitations that will impede you from being able to reach that rate (hard drive read speed, local Internet2 connection speed, and distance/latency factors), but this example gives you an idea of how much faster the Internet2 network can be over vanilla commercial connections that might be available to a local university, college, or other research institution.

Conclusion

We’re very excited to be joining the Internet2 community and network, supporting industry best practices and enabling better connectivity to our storage platform. Hopefully, the next scientific breakthrough is sitting encrypted on our hard drives, and we can be part of the many, many people, tools, and organizations who helped it on its way from research to reality.  

For more information about Backblaze and Internet2, you can read our press release or check out the Internet2 member directory.  

print

About Brent Nowak

Brent Nowak is a Technical Lead Network Engineer at Backblaze helping to build and deliver easy to use cloud storage services. Previously he has worked in academia, scientific research, and finance, each of which taught him different skills around performance, security, and reliability in computer networking. Brent is always looking for a new challenge to keep the lights blinking on network equipment (and to make them blink faster).