ORION 2019 Snapshot

Letter from the President

This is an unusual and difficult time. We’re all facing the challenges of COVID-19. At ORION, we’re proud of the role we play in empowering Ontario’s researchers, educators and innovators — including those hard at work on the pandemic. The importance of a fast, reliable and secure connection for Ontario’s innovation community is even clearer than ever before.

Fortunately, ORION is in a strong position thanks to the solid foundation we’ve built and the improvements we continue to make. We’re always evolving, seeking out ever-more effective ways to empower Ontario’s innovators by providing them with the tools they need to keep our province on the leading edge. In 2019-20, we continued that growth by introducing many exciting new advances.

During the past year, we’ve improved and expanded our network by upgrading our core network speed, officially rolling out last-mile service, and enhancing service for our constituents in Northern Ontario. We launched community training workshops that will allow our constituents to better defend themselves against cybersecurity attacks — and we strengthened our own defences, too. We launched our much-anticipated Ontario Cybersecurity Higher Education Consortium (ON-CHEC) and joined the Joint Security Project (JSP). We studied data governance in Smart Cities. We improved access to advanced research computing for healthcare, science, and research. And we brought leading researchers, educators, and innovators together at the Advance Ontario conference.

Meanwhile, we continued to build upon the partnerships that provide the foundation for our success. We’re working closely with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, as well as the Ministries of Infrastructure, Education, and Public Safety. And we continued to listen carefully to our community through our Advisory Groups which allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of innovation in Ontario.

Below, you’ll find some details about these highlights from our past year. I’m proud to present this snapshot of the ways in which ORION continued our evolution in 2019 as a champion for Ontario’s innovation community, empowering those who are hard at work building a bright and prosperous future for Ontario, Canada, and the world.

Alfonso Licata at The Advance Ontario Conference

Alfonso Licata

Alfonso Licata

President and CEO

Network Enhancements

ORION is continually expanding and improving our network — and in 2019–20, we made several vital advances. This year, we upgraded our core network speed to 200 gigabits per second (Gbps) and extended 200Gbps capacity to our point of presence (PoP) in Sudbury. This improves the resiliency of our network and enhances connectivity for our constituents in Northern Ontario. And we also further improved service in the North by upgrading our link between Sudbury and Thunder Bay to support multiple 100Gbps wavelengths.

The ORION network map

A map of the ORION Network detailing upgraded speeds and PoPs [Click to see the full image]

We empowered Ontario’s innovators to develop new products and services on pre-commercial 5G and next generation network testbeds. ORION worked together with our partners ENCQOR 5G (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) network and CENGN (Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks) to create a 100Gbps testing network and enable collaborations between industry, government, researchers, and academia. ORION now also brings Ontario regional innovation centres into the fold, to allow small- and medium-sized enterprises to directly participate in the platform.

Finally, as we continue to look for ways to improve our network even further, we launched a series of planning sessions with our constituents. Gathering fresh ideas and feedback directly from our community ensures that, as ORION grows, we’re responding to our constituents’ needs, and that our network continues to be the most powerful tool for empowering researchers, educators, and innovators across Ontario.

Launch of Last-Mile Service

In 2019, ORION fully launched our last-mile service, connecting end users’ sites with their regional ORION PoP. This final stretch of fibre, together with our research and education network and Internet service, means a one-stop-shop for our constituents. Our community now saves time, enjoys reduced technical complexity, more cost-effective solutions, and a single point of contact for all their network services.

Strengthening Cybersecurity

An infographic about cybersecurity at ORION

Key stats on our cybersecurity program [Click to see a larger version of this image]

As cybersecurity becomes ever more important, ORION is working to improve cybersecurity for Ontario’s innovation community. We launched our much-anticipated Ontario Cybersecurity Higher Education Consortium (ON-CHEC), using a collaborative approach to improve awareness of cybersecurity issues and develop a strategy to manage cybersecurity risks. We joined the Joint Security Project (JSP) for cybersecurity monitoring and are partnering with CanSSOC (Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre) on their proof of concept. And we worked with our partners in Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN) to establish Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools, processes, and staff. This will enable us all to better identify, manage, and respond to cybersecurity threats. Plus, we deployed a DDoS platform on the ORION network and launched a pilot program to strengthen our constituents’ defences against DDoS attacks.

ORION's New Community Training Workshops

As cybersecurity threats evolve, ORION is helping our province’s research, education, and innovation community keep up with the rapid pace of change. This year, in response to requests from our community, we launched a new program which connects our constituents with cost-effective cybersecurity training workshops, providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to keep Ontario’s innovation ecosystem safe and secure.

  • Read more about ORION Community Training > 

Advance Ontario Conference

This year, ORION teamed up with Compute Ontario and SOSCIP to bring more than 200 of the province’s leading innovators, academics, researchers and policymakers together at the Advance Ontario conference in Toronto. We spent three days sharing ideas and unique perspectives on Ontario’s digital research and education ecosystem, including valuable insights about smart cities, cybersecurity, and promoting diversity. It also gave us a chance to recognize some of the province’s most exciting innovators with our 2019 ORION Leadership Awards.

Collaborating with Our Community

ORION is always looking for even more powerful ways of empowering and collaborating with our constituents — and that means we’re always listening to them. Through ORION’s Advisory Groups and other engagements with representatives from Ontario’s innovation community, we get valuable feedback and fresh ideas, and they inform our strategies. Building on that success, we are launching a new group to guide the role that ORION might play in cloud initiatives.

Smart Cities Data Governance Report

Smart Cities hold tremendous potential. Digital research infrastructure has a key role to play in understanding their promise and drawbacks, as new methodologies are tested, research is undertaken, and the question of smart city data governance is explored. This year, ORION partnered with Compute Ontario to explore Smart Cities in a four-part “Building Ontario’s Next-Generation Smart Cities through Data Governance” report. Looking at issues that range from the ways in which data collection can be harnessed for the benefit of communities to the importance of data privacy, we’ve created a valuable resource that will help Ontario’s leaders and innovators navigate the path forward.

  • Read the Smart Cities report series >
Case Study: ORION Empowers Innovation: Understanding an Aging Population

Canada’s population is aging rapidly — and it’s crucial that we understand what that change will mean for our country’s future. That’s what drove the creation of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). The landmark study brought together more than 160 researchers from 26 universities across Canada, generating large amounts of data that needed to be shared securely across the country. As Ontario’s partner in NREN, ORION provided a vital connection to the CLSA data repository at McMaster University in Hamilton. It’s just one more way that ORION is helping to build a better future for people in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world.

Facts and Figures

See how ORION is investing to bring greater services to Ontario’s research, education and innovation community.

ORION Network MapA map of the ORION networks indicating improved sites and speeds
ORION Cybersecurity Fact sheetAn infographic about cybersecurity services provided by ON-CHEC
ORION RevenueA graph detailing the 2019 revenue for the ORION network
ORION Operating ExpensesA graph detailing the 2019 Operating Expenses for ORION
ORION Network InvestmentsA graph detailing investments put into the ORION Network
ORION Network Bandwidth UsageA graph detailing the increase in total network bandwith usage on the ORION network since 2015
ORION Research and Education Collaboration BandwidthA graph detailing the increase in research and education collaboration bandwidth since 2015