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Network World - The University of Florida is just putting the wraps on a remarkable year of IT upgrades. The school, which has a 2,000-acre campus and more than 900 buildings, installed a new supercomputer in a new data center, installed a 100Gbps link to Inernet2, and upgraded its Campus Research Network from 20G to 200Gbps while adding support for Software Defined Networking (SDN). Network World Editor in Chief John Dix got the lowdown on all of the developments from Erik Deumens, director of research computing.
You folks have accomplished an awful lot in one year. What got the ball rolling?
A few years ago the University of Florida hired a new CIO, Elias Eldayrie, and one of his primary goals was to improve the research computing infrastructure at the University of Florida. And when the Internet2 Innovation Platform movement got going he said we should be part of that. He talked to the president and provost and the VP for research and other administrators and got an agreement in-principle that that would be a good thing to do.
We wrote a proposal to NSF for a CC-NIE award, which is for campus cyber infrastructure, and got funding for switch equipment to connect to the nearest Internet2 point that had been upgraded to 100 Gig, which is in Jacksonville. And we were lucky because we had another proposal in with the NSF MRI (Major Research Instrumentation) program that was funded to upgrade the internal campus research network from 20Gbps to 200Gbps.
With the awards in place the university agreed to provide some extra funding to pay for the missing things, because there are always components that cost more. And so on the 1st of February of 2013 we deployed the connection from the University of Florida campus network to Internet2 as an innovation platform. And then the month after that we upgraded the core of the campus research network. The full campus research network upgrade has been in place since September.
Was your network tapped out or does the higher capacity just open new doors?
It’s a little bit of both. We were not fully tapped out on the 20 Gig Campus Research Network, but the outgoing link was only 10 Gig, and that reached maximum capacity of 9.6Gbps several times a week. So we really were close to needing to do something, and we decided that going to 100 Gig was the best way to do it.
One of the reasons we needed the extra capacity is to support the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN’s Hadron
collider. This is one of the experiments that contributed to the discovery of the Higgs Particle, which was awarded the Nobel
Prize this year. We have a large research group at the University of Florida that manages what is called a Tier 2 distribution
center for Hadron data. CERN takes the collider data and distributes it to about 10 labs across the world, with Fermi Lab
here in the US being one of them. And within the US there are another 10 Tier 2 sites that the data gets replicated to, and
the University of Florida is one of those.
So we get a lot of traffic from local researchers, but also we are serving up data to the nation. Any high-energy physics researcher who wants to analyze some of that data will request data from our site. So that’s why this network connection is very important to us and why it’s so heavily used.