Regional network partnership helps Indiana’s Huntington University get connected in Arizona

It’s not every day that a small, private college opens a satellite location halfway across the country. So, when Indiana’s Huntington University decided to make a bold expansion to the Southwest, they understood they’d need help to ensure its success.

Before opening its new site in Peoria, Arizona, Huntington reached out to local resources for help in getting connected to its home campus through I-Light, Indiana’s research and education network (REN)—resulting in a rare public-private partnership.

“We knew there would be a significant amount of collaboration between our main campus in Indiana and this site in Arizona,” said Adam Skiles, Huntington’s director of information and technology services. “We wanted to make sure we had a good connection between the two.”

The Hoosier state is a mix and match of private colleges and public universities—connected to each other, to the internet, and to Internet2 (the national REN) through I-Light. This web of connectivity, made possible by I-Light’s high-speed fiber optics, enables complex research and collaboration across all of Indiana and beyond.

In a close partnership with Arizona’s state REN, the Sun Corridor Network, and a local carrier,Cox Communications, the team was able to provide Huntington with the missing link: a last-mile connection to Sun Corridor Network’s point of presence, which in turn connects to the I-Light point of presence in Indiana. This not only allows Huntington’s Arizona site to connect to its main Indiana campus—and send vital information back and forth on a secure and dedicated network—but also to the nation’s research and education community as a whole.

The collaboration is unprecedented for both regional networks. “This public-private partnership is solving an emerging business need for university members as locations become more disparate geographically, but still need gigabit connectivity and other research and education network and collaboration resources,” said Michael Sherman, executive director of Sun Corridor Network. By setting a precedent, Sherman sees this partnership lighting the way for similar future projects around the country.

Another major benefit to having this new connection for Huntington is the possibilities it provides for disaster recovery. With plans for a new data center at Huntington’s Arizona site, this connection comes at an opportune time, opening the door for business continuity services in the future.

“The way the research and education community has come together to support Huntington University is inspiring,” said Marianne Chitwood, director of I-Light and GlobalNOC operations. “We’re part of such a great community where vendors, regional networks and members can collaborate to meet the needs of our member base. We look forward to seeing where this partnership will lead us.”

In a way, the research and education networks are just doing their job. The web of connections between states and universities is set up for precisely this opportunity: connecting within states, across the country, and around the world. It bodes well for the future of interstate research collaboration and for future public-private networking partnerships.

Read the press release here.