12 Aug 2010

Following a thorough analysis of the market, HEAnet chose Interxion to drive a world-class infrastructure that would allow for rapid expansion if required while assisting in the formation of a longer-term investment and resource development strategy.




Established by seven universities in 1984 with the support of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority, HEAnet provides connectivity and internet access to its 57 member institutions in higher education and research. It also serves more than 4,000 schools around the country. Its state-of-the-art national WAN is the electronic backbone of the country’s entire education and research sector, with 10Gbps international connections to peer resources in other countries –  such as the European GÉANT and UK JANET networks – as well as to the general internet.


HEAnet serves a growing education and research sector as well as a national user population, all of which require world-class infrastructure. In 2008 the organisation needed to supplement its existing data centre and WAN resources to provide for growth and new projects in the shorter term. Moreover, it needed a solution that would allow for rapid expansion if required while assisting in the formation of a longer-term investment and resource development strategy.


“Our mission is to deliver highly available and resilient network services to our clients, who are, in turn, dependent on our infrastructure,” said John Boland, HEAnet’s CEO. “Network excellence is the first pillar of our corporate strategy, and in a sense, everything else rests on that.”


Following a thorough analysis of the market, HEAnet chose Interxion, a Europe-wide data centre operator and managed services provider. Under the terms of the three-year contract HEA

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net will house its internet point of presence at Interxion’s Dublin data centre, taking 100m sq space for its infrastructure. This approach offers diversity for HEAnet’s infrastructure, allowing it to scale and reconfigure space as required. It also gives HEAnet the capacity to test and pilot innovative projects, as well as giving access to supplementary technical expertise.

The Interxion centre has multiple physical security layers and 24-hour security support with controlled customer access 24/7. The facility has guaranteed power availability up to 99.999pc, with N+1 backup generators and cooling and N+1 uninterruptible power supply. The centre is certified for the ISO 27001 information security management standard.


The three-year contract with Interxion is a very efficient way of adding physical server space and another connectivity node to the HEAnet resource infrastructure through a third-party data centre. It offers technical expertise to match HEAnet’s quality requirements and is an additional network resource at a cost-effective price.


“We now have effectively four data centres, including Interxion,” said Gareth Eason, HEAnet’s network operations manager.

“The ongoing development of our services has meant that different services, such as email and videoconferencing, have specific server and network needs. This has accelerated a trend towards co-location for HEAnet, so that primary and back-up resources are physically independent, with multiple connectivity paths.

“A university might have five email servers, for example, and choose to put one of them in a remote data centre but on an extension to their local area network. Interxion’s new Dublin data centre [which was opened in April 2010] will offer us a clear path to potential expansion in space or connectivity,” Eason said.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic