CC-NIE Network Infrastructure: Accelerating the Build-Out of a Dedicated Network for Education and Research in Big Data Science and Engineering

  • Agarwala, Vijay V.K. (PI)
  • Cowen, Douglas (CoPI)
  • Monroe, Burt (CoPI)
  • Kubicki, James D. (CoPI)
  • Giles, C. Lee C.L. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project, 'Accelerating the Build-out of a Dedicated Network for Education and Research in Big Data Science and Engineering', seeks to significantly expand and upgrade an existing network at Penn State. The existing network links five separate data centers over 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) connections and has enabled virtual co-location of computational and data resources in a way that is transparent to the research community. However these few private network links cannot be directly used by the academic community to move data between their laboratories or local facilities and the distributed data centers. The Penn State research community at present relies on the integrated enterprise data backbone to connect to resources at campus data centers or at national centers. While some of the connections reach a peak rate of 1 Gbps, most operate at peak rates of less than 100 Mbps, thus significantly limiting the ability of researchers to move large datasets to locations within or outside the campus. The significant expansion of the network being undertaken in this project will make several hundred 10 Gbps ports available in laboratories and offices across two major campuses of Penn State. This expansion is accomplished by deploying 48-port 10 Gbps Ethernet switches in 12 separate buildings with highest concentration of faculty who rely on large computational and data resources for advanced teaching and research. Each of these 12 switches is slated to have two 10 Gbps uplinks, one to each core router for redundancy. Both core routers will have 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps ports for external connectivity. The overall goal of the project is to provide at least a ten-fold increase in end-to-end network connectivity in labs and offices, making sustained 10 Gbps connections ubiquitous between faculty laboratories, data-generating instruments, select classrooms, and local and national computational and data resources.

The network expansion seeks to accomplish three key goals: (i) make it possible to use Big Data in advanced undergraduate and graduate classes,(ii) support NSF and other federal agency funded research projects across the university, and (iii) eliminate data related barriers for independent curiosity-driven research. The network expansion will significantly accelerate discovery processes for the research community spread across a large number of academic departments and multidisciplinary areas.

The network expansion project will impact education and research training of graduate and undergraduate students. It will have a discovery accelerating impact on a large number of federally-funded projects at Penn State. It will not only support rapidly growing needs in existing research projects but entirely new research projects involving Big Data and large-scale computations will likely be spawned in several multidisciplinary areas. It will lead to broadening of participation by women and minorities in STEM discipline as well as social sciences related research projects at Penn State and beyond. It will help extend the national CI and advance NSF-wide CIF21 goals since the proposed network will be very tightly integrated with national cyberinfrastructure, making large-scale collaborative research and sharing of computational and data resources far more frequent.

There will be focused effort through publications and several meeting presentations targeted at the national academic and research communities to disseminate the results obtained and implementation lessons learned under this project. Utilization and performance data will be made available to assist with similar research cyberinfrastructure related projects at peer institutions. The design and implementation of the network will be documented and made available as a publicly accessible report.

Effective start/end date10/1/129/30/14


  • National Science Foundation: $497,178.00


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