Memphis Launches Ultra High-Speed Research Link

The Memphis Coalition for Advanced Networkingrn(MCAN) inaugurated its ultra high speed fiber-optic communications network thisrnweek with an event at the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology.

MCAN is an independent, nonprofit corporationrnchartered to promote and operate leading-edge communications technologies thatrnsupport education, research, public service, and economic developmentrninitiatives. MCAN founding members include the University of Memphis,rnUniversity of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, St. Jude Children’s ResearchrnHospital, and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. Key corporate partners includernXO Communications, Cisco Systems, and Pomeroy IT Solutions.

In addition to facilitating scientificrnresearch, MCAN is designed to generate economic benefit from advancedrnnetworking applications. “The launch of this ultra high-speed researchrnlink creates intriguing potential for the Memphis business and entrepreneurialrncommunity,” said Russell Ingram, president and executive director of MCAN.”Connectivity at this speed will allow development of novel technologiesrnand applications that would otherwise not be possible. These new technologiesrnwill inevitably lead to new businesses and new jobs.”

MCAN is the result of several years of work byrnthe Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Oak RidgernNational Laboratory, and the Memphis community. In 2008, the State of Tennesseerngranted a contract to Oak Ridge to create a high-speed link between Oak Ridgernand Memphis. In 2009, Oak Ridge requested the participation of the Memphisrncommunity in designing and implementing that link. In response, representativesrnof the four major Memphis research institutions, along with an array of other Memphisrncommunity leaders, formed MCAN to build and administer a 10 gigabit per secondrndata network among the research institutions and between Memphis, Oak Ridge,rnand the national Internet2 research network. In early 2010, the TennesseernDepartment of Economic and Community Development funded the joint MCAN/OakrnRidge project with a grant of $3 million.

“The MCAN infrastructure provides vastlyrnimproved data transfer capacity, allowing researchers to collaborate using datarnthat would otherwise present a significant challenge,” says Dr. ClaytonrnNaeve, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CIO and MCAN board chairman.”For example, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/WashingtonrnUniversity Pediatric Cancer Genome Project will result in the sequencing of 1200rnhuman genomes, each of which requires the production of 90,000,000,000rncharacters of information. If printed out, this amount of data would fill 40rnmillion 4-drawer filing cabinets, enough to fill 26 Memphis Pyramids. MCANrnmakes it possible for researchers to transmit data on this scale.”

MCAN is a state of the art, very high speedrnoptical broadband communications network deployed over more than 50 miles ofrnoptical fiber reserved solely for MCAN use through a long term lease with XOrnCommunications. MCAN connects with similar research networks in Tennessee tornform a statewide very high speed research backbone connecting the principalrnresearch institutions in east, middle and west TN.

MCAN provides a network connection over a pairrnof optical fibers, to each member location, installation and maintenance ofrnthat connection on each Member institution’s behalf, and circuit engineeringrnand maintenance support for each network connection. The University of Memphis,rnthrough a provider agreement with MCAN, provides all network interfacernplanning, engineering, management, and consulting support.