NSFNET Backbone Service Restructured

ANS to manage Ann Arbor NOC

By Ellen Hoffman
Merit/NSFNET Information Services

Beginning November 1, 1992, the NSFNET Network Operations Center will be managed by Advanced Network and Services, Inc. (ANS). Under a new agreement between Merit and ANS, all NOC operations for NSFNET backbone services will be directly provided by ANS, including backbone engineering and network operations management. In addition, ANS will provide NOC services in support of Merit's statewide network, MichNet, the University of Michigan campus network, UMnet, and CICnet. ANS's operations center will be physically located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Merit will continue to have full responsibility for the National Science Foundation cooperative agreement under which NSFNET backbone services are supplied during the anticipated extension of the agreement. Merit will meet its responsibilities for network backbone engineering and operation through its subcontract with ANS. Merit will directly provide project management and planning, routing coordination including management of the policy routing database, information services, international registry, and other administrative services required by the cooperative agreement.

"As our experience with new Internet technologies has grown," said Eric Aupperle, Merit President and principal investigator on the NSFNET project, "Merit and ANS have recognized that our organizational structures must also change to meet new needs and establish a firm foundation  for each organization's longer term goals. After a comprehensive evaluation, we believe that a revised organizational structure will not only provide a solid basis for current operations but will also help establish a clear-cut division of duties which will assist Merit's and ANS's clients to better understand the relationship and the division of authority."

Since 1990, Merit and ANS have evolved a partnership to deploy the world's premiere network in support of research and education. Merit obtains backbone services for NSFNET through the ANS T3 (45 megabits per second) network. That network, ANSnet, also makes possible a successful enterprise in which ANS provides Internet connectivity to many other clients. The ANS network has been built on the experience  of the early years of the NSFNET backbone project, which began when Merit was the successful bidder for a five-year, $14 million cooperative agreement with NSF in 1987.

As a result of the reorganization, the circular subcontracting which was central to the earlier relationship between Merit and ANS has been terminated. Under the initial agreements signed in 1990, ANS subcontracted engineering and network operations from Merit, providing experienced staff to support the new organization's enterprises. The new structure allows for a clear separation between the two organizations with no overlap in staffing or authority structures. Additionally, ANS will continue as the interface to IBM and MCI, allowing the successful partnership to develop and deploy new networking technologies.

"Our new division of responsibilities with Merit is a natural progression of our internal restructuring, which will allow us to be more responsive to the needs of the entire customer community," said Jordan Becker, ANS vice president for network services.

Some Merit staff move to ANS

In October, Stan Metcalf joined ANS as director of network services--Ann Arbor. Metcalf comes to ANS from Computer Sciences Corporation in Norwich, CT where he held a similar position. NOC manager John Labbe and staff from both the National Network Attack Force and the Network Operations Center have moved from Merit to ANS during the past few months. Merit associate director Jim Williams, and managers Mark Knopper (Internet Engineering), Ellen Hoffman (Information Services), and Dale Johnson (Network Management Systems) remain at Merit, along with the senior engineering staff and the information services group.

"The factors leading to this reorganization provide a means to achieve long-term business objectives for Merit and ANS," said Aupperle. "In fact, for each, a critical factor in this reorganization is a continuing positive relationship which will be required to successfully provide high-quality services under the existing NSFNET cooperative agreement until its termination. The transition plan will simplify organizational, staffing, and decision-making structures while providing the foundation for continued successful NSFNET operations."

Taken from The Link Letter, Vol. 5 No. 3, November 1992.