Public Services > Education

Jisc Services tenders for framework to build access infrastructure for Janet network

David Bicknell Published 05 December 2017

£15m framework will help implement access provisioning strategy to supersede current arrangements for access and regional components


The Jisc Services arm of higher education not-for-profit company Jisc wants to establish a framework agreement to purchase metro Ethernet access and aggregation equipment, optical transmission equipment and a network management system to build an access infrastructure for the Janet network.

According to a tender document, the framework agreement, valued at up to £15m and consisting of two lots, will be used to provide Janet services to a range of organisations. It can run up potentially seven years: an initial contract for an initial period of four years, with an option to extend for a further three years in one year periods.

Janet is managed by Jisc to provide a service to research and education communities across the UK. It also provides services to many local authority education networks, via Regional Broadband Consortia in support of ICT provision in schools and community development learning.

The contract will be awarded for an initial four year period, with an option to extend for a further three years in one year periods. The first lot covers the provision of Metro Ethernet access and aggregation equipment, optical transmission equipment and associated professional services, while a second lot covers a network management system for the new Janet network access infrastructure.

According to the tender documents, the first order for equipment will be placed in the first quarter of 2018 to replace the Janet East Midlands Region. Subsequent orders are expected to be placed over the following four to five years to replace the other Janet regional networks.

For Lot 2, the tender said, an order will be placed for the network management system on successful completion of the procurement and award of the contract.

The tender documents explain that currently the Janet network is organised in three layers – backbone, regional and access. The Janet backbone spans all four countries of the UK, and is constructed from leased dark fibre, optical multiplexing equipment and high performance IP routing equipment.

The Janet backbone connects 18 regional networks, to which the majority of customer connections are provisioned. For historical reasons each regional network infrastructure has evolved independently over time, with a range of circuit technologies and switching/routing equipment deployed across different regions. Regional networks also employ a variety of premises as points of presence (PoPs) for access circuit aggregation including carrier-dependent co-location facilities, HE/FE customer sites, and BT exchanges.

Janet customer sites are connected to these regional networks using a range of access circuit technologies, sourced from numerous suppliers, at bandwidths ranging from less than 1Gbit/s to multiples of 10Gbit/s depending on the site’s requirements.

Over the duration of the envisaged contractual arrangements resulting from the procurement, the documents suggest, the bandwidth delivered to some individual Janet customer sites is likely to reach or possibly exceed 100Gbit/s especially at sites with research projects that consume large volumes of data. As more users progressively migrate applications and data storage to off-site data centres, the provision of resilient connectivity is increasingly important.

Regional network infrastructures and their corresponding access circuits have in the past been re-procured approximately every four-six years, involving significant procurement effort, capital cost associated with circuit re-installation, and engineering resource to deploy the new infrastructures.

But now, in order to meet the future requirements of its customer base, Jisc Services wants to execute an access provisioning strategy to supersede the current arrangements for the access and regional components in order to provide architectural coherence across the whole of the network; improve the reliability of the Janet service; increase the speed of connection provisioning (installation and upgrade); reduce capital and recurrent costs; and reduce procurement and engineering resource requirements.

At the same time, Jisc Services wants to consolidate the supply base, thus reducing the number of supply contracts and length of supply contract chains, and the frequency of procurement.

This procurement is for the metro Ethernet access and aggregation equipment, optical transmission equipment, associated professional services and a network management system for the new Janet network access infrastructure.

On Janet’s future provisioning strategy, the documents explain that the equipment that comprises the backbone network is expected to have a lifetime of at least five more years and is not within the scope of replacement as part of the tender.

Each existing Janet regional network has evolved individually over time using different design goals and principles. And over the next 4 to 6 years the new Janet network access provisioning strategy will replace the current Janet regional and access infrastructure.

The closing date for tenders is January 12.


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