All public universities in the state of Kentucky are connected to the Kentucky Regional Optical Network (KyRON). This research network provides connectivity between institutions, shared regional data centers, and Internet2 services. Peer institutions are connected to KyRON at a minimum of 10Gb and as high as 100Gb connections. KyRON connectivity is provided by direct OSI layer-1 physical fiber connections provided by either local exchange carriers or over IRU fiber. Low-level connectivity allows KyRON to support traditional routed services in addition to Software Defined Network (SDN) capabilities provided by native OpenFlow and other advanced protocols. These capabilities allow KyRON to serve as a regional exchange stitching low-level campus resources between institutions, from institutions to shared regional, and national resources. The KyRON network has grown to become a critical component of campus CI for all Kentucky institutions of higher learning. Currently, KyRON connections provide the highest-speed external network connectivity for all peer institutions serving as the primary communications link for research through Internet2 AL2S/AL3S and commercial traffic through TS-CPS.
The KyRON network proceeded the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Network (KPEN), which was established by the Kentucky Council of Postsecondary Education (CPE) in 1998. As with the current KyRON network each public institution was previously connected to KPEN. The KPEN network was funded by CPE and was operated by a national commercial network provider. With KPEN, the commercial provider had end-to-end responsibility for all layers of network support. With an increasing institutional demand for network capacity combined with a decreasing CPE budget, the current KyRON network was formed.
Based on dark fiber IRUs acquired by CPE in December 2013, 100Gb network hardware acquired by UK in conjunction with NSF Grant OCI-1246332, U. of Kentucky, CC-NIE Integration: Advancing Science through Next Generation SDN Networks”, KyRON provided 10 and 100Gb links between institutions, shared data centers, and Internet2. Institutions originally on KPEN (1Gb) were given the option to migrate (over CPE funded links) to KyRON (10Gb) and by December 2015 all but the geographically distributed community college system had migrated to KyRON.