Paving the road to innovation on the ORION network

This is an exciting time to be at ORION. Looking back at where we were just two short years ago, I am proud of what we have achieved. Thanks to investments in 2018 and 2019, we’ve completed some major network enhancements and launched fantastic partnerships. Here’s what we’ve been working on and a glimpse at what we have ‘coming down the pipe’ in the year ahead.

Enhancing Network Resilience

Over the last year, we’ve upgraded our main Toronto Point of Presence (PoP) to increase reliability, optimize our systems, and improve monitoring. This includes implementing new 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) connections to Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN) to support our research and education network, to a major internet hub in Chicago (from York University), and to our primary Internet transit point in Toronto. We’ve also installed an additional heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system so that we now have 100% redundancy at this key PoP. Altogether, these improvements provide security and reliability for the network.

Network Upgrades

Speaking of the network, did you know that we increased our core network capability to 200Gbps, and extended 200Gbps capacity to our Point of Presence (PoP) in Sudbury? This has opened the door for new opportunities on the ORION network across the province, as well as enhanced collaboration on the NREN, through CANARIE, our partner in Canada’s NREN.

A map of the ORION networks indicating improved sites and speeds

A map of the ORION Network highlighting the enhancements that have been made to our network in the last two years. [Click to see a larger version of this image]

Supporting Research and Innovation

What makes this truly is exciting are the new collaborations—the core of innovation—that this connectivity enables. One collaboration that’s particularly relevant in today’s race to health solutions is our connection with SciNet, Canada’s largest super computing centre. They now have the capacity to provide daily backups to the Centre for Advanced Computing (CAC) in Kingston through the ORION network. As they support compute-intense academic disease modelling and research, it’s just one piece of the infrastructure pie that is helping support the work necessary to keep our entire population safe.

We’re now also enabling innovators to develop new products and services on pre-commercial 5G and next generation network testbeds. We created 100Gbps testing networks together with our partners ENCQOR 5G (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) and CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks . This project is taking collaboration and innovation to the next level by connecting 12 additional Ontario Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) to the ORION network. This will allow small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to directly participate in the platform and enable collaborations between industry, government, researchers, and academia.

These enhancements work together to create a solid foundation that can foster innovations and new opportunities.

As everything becomes ever more reliant on digital infrastructure, it’s important to protect vulnerable systems, people, as well as sensitive data. This has inspired several cybersecurity initiatives and I’m looking forward to telling you about them in my next blog.

Building This Together

It has been an exciting road to get to where we are today, and many individuals and organizations have been walking it together with us. I want to thank all those with whom we’ve built these projects: ORION’s hard-working staff, as well as our community partners, including CENGN, ENCQOR 5G, and Compute Ontario. And finally, thanks to our funders, the Ontario Government, OCE, and CANARIE, without whom we could not have travelled this great distance.