SWITCH stands for greater capability in the digital world. Its far-sighted planning ensures that there is always more than enough performance available to meet all customers’ needs.
The Benelux countries are probably not jealous of Switzerland’s size, but they are almost certainly jealous of our avalanche bulletin. Any country with an avalanche bulletin must have glittering, snow-capped mountains – a beautiful winter wonderland. The first bulletins appeared as long ago as 1945, when they were published weekly. They became daily in 1997 and have been produced twice a day in four languages since 2012. The bulletins are an indispensable source of information for safety personnel, mountain guides and off-piste skiers alike, and they can save lives.
Few people are aware of how and where they are produced. They are the responsibility of the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos, part of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), which itself belongs to the ETH Domain. The SLF avalanche warning team draws up the bulletins, continually collecting, analysing and processing data from 200 observers and 180 automated measuring stations out in the field.
But what does all this have to do with SWITCH? Without SWITCH, the avalanche bulletin would never leave the office in Davos. Its reliable transmission into the digital universe twice daily is made possible by SWITCH’s high-speed data network, known since 1989 by the name SWITCHlan. The SLF has had a redundant SWITCHlan connection since 2006.
No asset symbolises SWITCH’s performance better than SWITCHlan. It represents the pinnacle of data networks and was designed for one higher purpose, namely to transport data in the service of science. Its outstanding features can be summed up in a few words: inexhaustible capacity, low complexity and global interconnection. There is not a single university or leading research institute in Switzerland that is not connected to SWITCHlan. Even world-famous names like CERN and the Paul Scherrer Institute use it.
More and more private companies’ research and development departments are also showing an interest in SWITCHlan. They appreciate the fact that it has performance to spare as well as the stability, security and independence offered by SWITCH’s infrastructure. These new customers are global players that need a direct connection to international research networks, and SWITCHlan gives them that.
This interest is good news for SWITCH. Research is increasingly a matter of public-private partnerships and international cooperation. The extra income provided by a growing customer base makes it possible to upgrade the network infrastructure ready for the future and provides a welcome contribution to the funding of innovation projects that benefit the entire SWITCH community.
These days, SWITCH is able to set up connections between any points within SWITCHlan flexibly and at short notice, and they are extremely stable. The system automatically identifies interruptions in the fibre-optic cables and diverts the affected channels. At full capacity, SWITCHlan could currently transmit data at 100 gigabits per second on each of its 88 channels. This leaves room for much more than the avalanche bulletin.