FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for general information or to help you with issues you may be having with outages, maintenance, IP ranges, bandwidth, DNS, the client Gateway, and more.

General Information

What is the fundamental difference between the previous network and OARnet?

The previous Ohio higher education telecommunications network transmitted data over copper wire, while OARnet transmits data over optical fiber (glass) strands. Optical fiber provides the most cost-effective and scalable solution to higher education’s long-term needs for research development and collaborations, and can be customized to meet unique research requirements.

“To give you an idea of how much larger this network is compared to what we previously had, imagine a two-lane highway expanding to 32 lanes over night,” said OARnet Project Manager Denis Walsh. “We have the ability to add ‘lanes’ quickly and inexpensively in the future just by adding more equipment instead of laying new fiber. This network is built with the capacity to add 64 ‘highways’ each with 64 lanes when we need to.”
The lanes in this case are actually wavelengths of light controlled by optical cards installed in equipment on the network.

In addition to the seemingly endless optical fiber capacity is a host of equipment that makes the new network run. Distributed throughout Ohio’s statewide network are 17 network access locations called Points of Presence (POPs). The POPs act as OARnet’s on-and off-ramps. They let data traffic on and off the network at specific locations. Traffic is then carried by local loops that serve as “last mile” connections to the final destination, such as a campus. Institutions can build, buy, or lease their local loop from telecommunications vendors.

Also installed on OARnet are highly intelligent devices called routers, which serve as the network’s “post offices.” Routers sort Internet data the same way the post office sorts mail. All data, or “mail,” has a destination address called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Routers sort this mail based on variables such as privilege, priority, and application being used, and look at traffic on the entire network before deciding the best route. Routers get Internet mail to its destination by either the shortest or fastest path, and can re-route mail to avoid congestion points or network outages.

The previous state network had one main routing location, or “post office,” located in Columbus that sorted and routed all Internet mail. Thus, mail from Cleveland to Youngstown was diverted hundreds of miles out of the way. OARnet reduces this “hop count” by routing mail more directly to its destination, saving time and reducing network traffic.

How is industry involved with OARnet and the network?

Companies can collaborate with universities throughout Ohio to conduct research on new or next-generation products through OARnet’s extensive, reliable service within Ohio. Critical scientific and industrial research facilitated over OARnet will generate important new economic opportunities and high-paying jobs for Ohioans.

In addition to providing higher education with access to shared information and resources, the OARnet is now providing access for non-academic institutions to this unique technology initiative on a cost-recovery basis. This allows companies to evaluate emerging technologies and applications with universities across the state to develop and expand collaborations with higher education, and to strengthen Ohio’s economic attractiveness and global competitiveness.

With OARnet, Ohio can explore new experimental networking technologies and can customize networks to meet specific and unique research requirements of collaborations between Ohio’s institutions of higher education and leading industrial partners.

What are some examples of enhanced research projects via OARnet?

Examples of enhanced research projects possible via OARnet include:

  • Collaborative research statewide, nationally, and internationally
  • Remote shared resources and instrumentation
  • Enhanced distance learning applications
  • Biomedical applications such as remote robotic surgery
  • Remote medical consultation
  • Biomedical applications

What organizations qualify for connecting to the network?

Although OARnet was deployed primarily for use by Ohio’s higher education community, the OARnet Industry Principles allow for access by non-academic, private, and industrial corporations for specific scientific, educational, and economic development collaborations throughout the state. Non-academic institutions must have an education, research and development focus, or have a division within their industry or corporation that has a research, education and development division qualified to utilize the OARnet.

What types of applications does the network support?

Distributed Classroom Environments

Distributed classrooms allow a professor at one institution to teach a graduate class to students at other institutions---or multiple professors at different institutions to team teach a class with students from a still larger number of institutions. The distributed classrooms require high quality and low latency audio and video links, shared workspaces, electronic whiteboards, archive and playback of multiple streams from remote servers, and advanced audio/video technologies such as 360-degree cameras. This application requires not only 2-10 Mbps, or more, of bandwidth, but also end-to-end multicast connectivity, and very low packet loss, latency, and jitter---which was not available on the previous Internet. Remote musical training over the network that brings together Ohio’s most gifted young musicians with the world’s greatest artists and teachers enables distance coaching at the highest levels of musical performance, as well as offering the possibility of remote orchestral job auditions and performances with remote collaborators. This application requires a quality of real time audio and video that was not available before the OARnet.

Shared Instrumentation

Remote control and use of expensive laboratory equipment provides a way to share expensive research instruments and provide dramatic cost savings. Previously, astronomers had to go to a telescope on a distant mountain to do their research. Using the optical fiber network and Internet2, researchers are able to steer a remote telescope and display the high-resolution images on their local systems. The savings in travel costs alone are dramatic.

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Medical Research Magnet located at The Ohio State University Hospital illustrates the kinds of advanced applications that are envisioned. The magnet is the largest in the world. Medical researchers throughout Ohio would greatly benefit from sharing this resource. The magnet, however, generates more than eight Gigabits (or eight billion bits) of data every second. That's the same as 1,000 books, each with 1,000 pages, every second. Which is more than seven times the carrying capacity of the old network. OARnet easily supports sharing this expensive resource. Researchers sharing advanced instrumentation in the life sciences, for example 900 MHz NMRs, between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, will need sustained access to bandwidth that will swamp the capacity previously provisioned on this route. Internet capacity will continue to increase, of course, but as scientific instrumentation reaches higher resolutions, demand for bandwidth from this single application will likely increase at a greater rate, perhaps exponentially.

Research Collaboration

Researchers at P&G Pharmaceuticals, who are using 3D imaging of molecular interactions in drug design, want to share their work with a network of researchers at universities. Further, tools and technologies developed in this research will be of acute interest in the training of the next generation of scientists, who are being educated at an array of public and private universities. The bandwidth required for extremely high value collaborations such as this will be enormous and will likely be exacerbated by the desirability of creating very high-speed grids to deal with rapidly increasing computational requirements. Video conferencing and interactive collaboration for remote medical consultation and continuing medical education requires the seamless integration of high quality, real-time video with crystal clear synchronized audio, high bandwidth medical devices (e.g. high resolution CAT scans), non-linear control of recorded high-resolution video (e.g. from an endoscope), and interactive virtual reality images (e.g. dissectible 3-D images of tissue samples). This will require both bandwidth and QoS hundreds of times better than that existing into any campus in Ohio before the OARnet.

Advanced High Performance Computing

Steering high performance computer (HPC) calculations presents similar issues. To adjust the directions of a complex computation, researchers need to see the simulation in real time. Typically these computations involve fluid dynamics, combustion, and crash simulations. For example, a professor at Bowling Green State University investigates relativistic astrophysics using compute-intensive simulations on the supercomputers at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Through funding from the ITEC-Ohio and in collaboration with Wright State University, techniques are being developed that will allow that researcher to remotely visualize large data sets over OARnet’s optical fiber network, and more effectively “steer” the computer simulation.

Outages and Maintenance

Does OARnet want to know if I am doing maintenance on my campus?

Yes, please tell us! We will open a ticket in our tracking system so that staff is aware of your maintenance and schedule downtime in our monitoring system if you give us a specific timeframe. Otherwise, our monitoring system marks your circuits down, we call you and possibly the Telco under the assumption there is an outage.

Bandwidth and Statistics

What types of bandwidth does OARnet offer?

OARnet provides three levels of connectivity:

IntraOhio bandwidth
Network traffic that stays within the State of Ohio.
Internet (also called Internet1)
General public connection.
Internet2
Non-profit, national network dedicated to research and education. OARnet is Ohio's access point to Internet2.

How do I see my statistics?

Visit www.oar.net/support/statistics to learn how to view statistics.

IP and DNS

Does OARnet have a standard list of ports or IPs to block?

We do not maintain a standard list; we do not make a practice of blocking traffic unless there is a service-impacting issue.

How do you request a port or IP be blocked?

A member school can request for a port or list of ports to be blocked by sending a request to the Service Desk at support@oar.net. The request must come from a listed contact at the school. In the case of an emergency you may call the Service Desk at 1-800-627-6420; we will need to verify your authority to request changes, however.

Why do you keep sending me Spam/Copyright/Security/Bot complaints?

OARnet is listed as the owner and contact for IP space that we have leased to our clients. We receive many types of security complaints, which we forward to the OARnet client currently responsible for that IP.

What's a forward DNS?

It is mapping a domain name to an IP address. We use A records to set these up in a zone file. CNAMES may be added to create "shortcuts" to existing A records. You must register forward domain zones.

Example:


example.edu. IN A 192.168.10.1
www.example.edu. IN CNAME example.edu

What's a reverse DNS?

It is mapping an IP address to a domain name.

A special PTR-record type stores reverse DNS entries. The name of a PTR-record is the IP address with the segments reversed + ".in-addr.arpa." For example, the reverse DNS entry for IP 1.2.3.4 would be stored as a PTR-record for 4.3.2.1.in-addr.arpa.

Reverse DNS is different from forward DNS in who points (delegates) the zone to your DNS server. With reverse DNS, your Internet connection provider (ISP) must point the zone ("....in-addr.arpa") to your DNS server. Without this delegation from your ISP, your reverse zone will not work.

Why do forward and reverse DNS need to match up? What happens if they don't?

We need reverse DNS for many purposes, especially mail delivery. Most ISP's mailservers require reverse lookup of a host sending mail, for validation purposes. This reduces IP spoofing and spam emails. If the ISPs don't find the reverse DNS for the IP, then the mail will be discarded or returned.

Reverse DNS is mostly used to track website visitors, email message origination, etc. This tracking is important because some machines require authentication of IPs. Forward and reverse zones are two separate zones whose files not necessarily hosted on the same nameservers. Typically, for every A record there should be a corresponding PTR record, but this is not always the case.

Can a zone file consist of more than one MX or A record?

Yes. Zone files can get really large mostly due to A records that are the most popular records in a zone. MX records are names of host that act as mail exchanger for the domain. MX records cannot point to an IP but only other names.

Example: if you have a mail exchanger with mail.example.edu as the name and 192.168.10.1 as the IP, then mail.example.edu must have an A record such as:


mail.example.edu IN A 192.168.10.1

and an MX record such as:


example.edu IN MX 10 mail.example.edu.

This means that any mail destined to say user@example.com must send it to mail.example.com, which has an IP address of 192.168.10.1 and a priority of 10. You can have more than one MX record (more than one mailserver) with different priorities.

Is it possible for me to keep OARnet as my primary DNS and someone else as my secondary? Will OARnet be my secondary?

Yes. It's a good networking practice to have two different ISPs as DNS hosts. One should be the primary (which could be the client or OARnet) and the other set as the secondary (which could be OARnet, the client or some other authorized system). Two ISPs are not likely to have outages at the same time, which reduces the risk of a network failure.

Will you sub-delegate my IPs so I can handle reverse on my nameservers?

Yes. Contact the Service Desk to arrange this.

Does OARnet provide DNSsec?

All of OARnet's nameservers support DNSsec and use it for validating queries where RRSIGs are present. However, we do not currently sign any of the zones that we are SOA for or secondary for. We will set up TSIGs to authenticate zone transfers between servers if requested.

Does OARnet provide Emergency Web Hosting?

Yes, OARnet will store and deploy a basic campus web presence on a remote web server. This 24/7 service is hosted on a dedicated server on the network backbone and must be set up prior the emergency. Please contact your client-services representative for details.

Gateway Usage

How do I access the Gateway?

  • Visit gateway.oar.net to register. Requests are verified by our Service Desk with your Administrative Contact or Client Relationship Manager.
  • Connectivity from an OARnet client IP address space is required to access the Gateway. If you are a client without an OARnet internet subscription, please submit your IP Ranges to the Service Desk. Once your IP Ranges have been added to our system, you will be notified, and then you will be able to register.

What is the difference between a User and a Gateway Editor?

  • A User has view access to the Gateway only.
  • A Gateway Editor can make contact changes.

What is the difference between a User and a Contact?

  • Users are people who have authorization and have a username and password to view the Gateway.
  • Contacts are individuals and their personal information such as name, title, phone & email. 
  • Contacts are applied to roles.

What is the difference between a Gateway Editor and an Administrative Contact?

  • A Gateway Editor is a user with edit access and only they can modify contact and role information.
  • An Administrative Contact fulfills the duties outlined in the OARnet Contact Policy & Role Definitions.
  • We recommend the Gateway Editor and Administrative Contact be the same, but it is not required. 

Why is the Gateway for authorized users only?

Authorization keeps your personal information and your organization’s information private.

Why is the contact list separate from roles?

The contact list gives you the ability to apply a contact to many roles. It also allows you to manage a contact’s personal information in one place. If a contact’s personal information changes (such as name or phone), the information only needs updated in one place, regardless of how many roles the contact is assigned.

How do I update my contact list?

Click on Contacts in the sub-menu. 

  • To edit a current contact, click on the edit icon next to the contact. 
  • To add a new contact, click the “Add Contact” button.
  • To remove a contact, click the x icon next to the contact. 

How do I apply contacts to roles?

  • Click on roles in the sub-menu.
  • Click on the edit button next to the role. 
  • Select the Contact you want to fulfill that role. 
  • Click Save. 

How do I add an optional role? (i.e. DNS)

  • Click on “Add Role” 
  • Select the Contact you want to fulfill that role. 
  • Click Save. 

How do I see our users and Gateway Editors?

  • Click “Users” in the menu. 
  • Your users will be listed in the chart. 
  • In the column “Gateway Editors” it will say Yes or No indicating if the user is a Gateway Editor.

How do I remove a User?

  • Gateway Editors can remove Users.  
  • Click “Users” in the menu.  
  • Click the x next to their name.  
  • The User will no longer have access to the Gateway. Their contact entry will also be removed.  
  • Please assign a new contact to any newly vacated role.

How do I change who is a Gateway Editor?

Click on “Users” 

  • Under the column “Gateway Editor” 
  • To remove edit access: click “Yes.” Uncheck the box. Click save. The individual will still be able to login but they won’t be able to make contact changes. 
  • To give edit access: click “No.” Check the box. Click save. The individual will now have access to make contact changes. 

At least two Gateway Editors are required. There is an unlimited number of additional Gateway Editors you may have.

My co-worker doesn’t appear in the User list.

This could mean:

  • The User hasn’t registered yet. Have them register at gateway.oar.net. 
  • The User has registered but hasn’t been verified. The Support Center verifies registration requests with your Administrative Role Contact. If no contact is assigned to the Administrative Contact role, the Support Center will contact your Business Relationship Manager.
  • The user has registered and been verified, but hasn’t logged in yet. Once they login the first time their name will appear. 

Listed Contacts on Gateway

What is a contact?

Individuals and their personal information such as name, title, phone & email.

What is a contact role?

Functions contacts are assigned to based on the OARnet Contact Policy & Role Definitions.

What is an Administrative Contact?

This contact provides authorization for changes to be made to services or to authorize others to request changes to the service or related information. They provide authorization for Gateway view and edit access. This contact oversees your organization’s overall compliance of the Contact Policy. It is recommended the Administrative Contact be a Gateway Editor.

Why do I need manage my own contacts?

Reliable and up-to-date client contact information is imperative to OARnet's ability to resolve outages, keep your organization informed of scheduled maintenance events and enable your organization to request service changes. Failure to maintain your contacts may result in various interruptions (including notifications and service requests).

What information is required of each contact?

First Name, Last Name, Title, email and at least one phone number (office or mobile). 

Why does the Support Center only accept change requests and trouble reports from Gateway Listed Contacts?

Authorization helps prevent any unauthorized individuals from requesting service changes on your behalf. It helps prevent unauthorized individuals from Interfering with your service and your business. 

What roles can initiate and/or authorize change?

  • Administrative and Technical roles can request configuration changes. 
  • The Administrative role can authorize changes.
  • The DNS role can request DNS changes.