Southeast Texas Gigapop
Rooted in Collaborative Networking
The Southeast Texas GigaPOP is a consortium of research and education (R&E) institutions in the southeastern Texas region that was originally formed in 1998 as the "Texas GigaPOP". Born out of both shared infrastructure and shared needs, the Texas GigaPOP was one of the original connecting points for the Abilene network, the predecessor to what would eventually become Internet2. In 2003, the Texas GigaPOP gifted its own 501(c)(3) to the then-nascent, Texas statewide networking organization known as LEARN. Subsequently, the Texas GigaPOP consortium changed its name to the Southeast Texas GigaPOP, or more commonly known as "SETG".
The founding (and still active) members include (in alphabetical order) Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), Rice University, Stephen F. Austin University (SFA), Texas A&M University (TAMU) and the University of Houston (UH). Since 1998, the organization has grown considerably to what it is today, comprised of 11 active members representing nearly 300,000 faculty, staff and students.
Most of the participants are located in or near the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and are TMC-member organizations as well. The TMC is the largest medical complex in the world, situated approximately five miles south of downtown Houston.
Since its inception, members have freely shared infrastructure assets, including fiber-optic cabling, routing, switching, space and power resources, to efficiently and creatively serve the needs of their respective communities in highly cost-effective ways. This cooperative sharing of resources has been and remains the key to SETG's success in building and sustaining a scalable and resilient infrastructure, and ever-expanding portfolio of network services. In fact, through the years, the community has coalesced around, and continues to make all decisions according to six non-negotiable core values:
1. Meet the common needs of the R&E community
2. Share assets to reduce costs (fiber, technology, power, space, etc.)
3. Collaborate wherever and whenever it makes sense
4. Aggregate demand to reduce per-unit consumption cost
5. Make all decisions with complete transparency to our community
6. Control our community’s destiny
In 2002, the University of Houston was awarded a grant that the university leveraged to secure a multi-year lease for a fiber-optic ring between UH's main campus, the downtown UH campus, and the TMC. That fiber ring served as a sort of infrastructure "seed" that made it possible for all of the members to easily and inexpensively connect to one another. Other institution-specific investments in dark-fiber assets and networking hardware have also been shared with the broader SETG community over the past two decades that have formed an indispensable, synergistic foundation which the SETG consortium has leveraged to dramatically expand services, while driving down per-unit consumption costs well below what any specific institution would pay individually.
In the beginning, SETG connected to Abilene (now Internet2) across an OC-3 (155 Mbps); today, thanks to two NSF CC* grants (UH award 1341019 and BCM award 1541075), SETG enjoys a 100 Gbps internal backbone, in addition to 100G connectivity to its upstream R&E aggregator, LEARN, and then Internet2. In addition, three of the members are connected to SETG at 100G; each of those has established a science DMZ, and the three institutions are collaborating to formulate practices, policies and processes aimed at ensuring cybersecurity while diminishing "friction", especially on behalf of the bandwidth-intensive research community.