Research Education Networks Standardizing on 100GbE and OpenFlow 1.3

by Ed O'Connell on ‎09-08-2015 05:01 AM (4,523 Views)

In order to do basic research, University researchers must compete for research grants. Similar to competing in sports, University researchers must have all the right infrastructure (e.g. data networks, science labs, research data, and analysis tools) in place to be awarded research grant funds. etc. If they don’t have the right infrastructure, then they are at a competitive disadvantage.


Internet2, CANARIE, PacificWave, WRN, ESnet, and GEANT are just a few of the dedicated global Science research data networks that connect university researchers to data sources such as CERN and NOAA, as well as other universities. These Research Education Networks (RENs) have standardized on high-speed 100GbE Ethernet connections for performance and SDN for network visibility and control to effectively manage bandwidth for thousands of data transfers each year. Today the bare minimum that is required to establish such connectivity is 100GbE and support for OpenFlow 1.3. This demand is driven by the large data that is being exchanged and transferred and things like network latency and performance are essential requirements that must be addressed.


Recently two universities upped their game to enable them to connect to the Science networks and expedite research. University of New Mexico (UNM) and University of Victoria (UVic) both upgraded their respective networks to enable 100Gbps connectivity and introduced SDN, based on OpenFlow 1.3, to reap the benefits of the technology: increased scale, less operational complexity and more agility through programmability to enable new applications faster.


University of New Mexico

UNM has built a unique network to support a converged infrastructure that not only connects the University data centers and campus network, but also provides connectivity to Albuquerque GigaPoP, the statewide network of New Mexico. This converged infrastructure provides an on-ramp for high-speed national networks, such as the Western Regional Network (WRN) and Internet2 backbone. In order to provide an operationally simple and easy to manage infrastructure to deliver the massive level bandwidth required by researchers and others, the UNM network team built a consolidated and converged network architecture using Brocade’s industry leading MLXe Router. The MLXe Router’s scalability and performance enabled the network engineering team to collapse their Layer 2 and Layer 3 services into a single platform, support line rate 100Gbps connectivity and seamlessly enable SDN in an existing network without disrupting existing services. The solution also leverages the Brocade SDN Controller, based on the OpenDaylight Project, to provide an open network environment.


To find out more about how the UNM Network group enabled 100GbE and SDN control and visibility on their network and won a prestigious award in the process, you can read the story here.


University of Victoria

Located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, UVic has hundreds of researchers in various disciplines covering oceans and climate, genomics, particle physics, astronomy, chemistry, computational modeling and more who in turn need to share and access terabytes and petabytes of data across the globe. Initially, researchers were using a network built on a single 10GbE connection to the provincial network known as BCNET. This limited connectivity caused severe performance and connectivity delays resulting in researchers waiting for days before data transfers would be complete. This is certainly not acceptable in a world of real-time data access where things like Big Data are becoming reality.


In order to satisfy the network performance and scalability needs, UVic chose the Brocade MLX series router. This solution not only addressed the network performance and scale requirements it allowed for a seamless introduction of SDN technology that would provide more agility to enables programmability and introduction of new applications and services faster and more efficiently. Direct 100Gbps connectivity to CANARIE enables UVic researchers to exchange data in minutes or hours versus days. Using Brocade’s SDN solutions, which includes the Brocade version of the OpenDaylight Controller, the network staff are able to have control and visibility on their WAN links. You can read more about UVic’s efforts to scale up network bandwidth to reduce research project timelines here.


Brocade continues to be cornerstone of many RENs networks with solutions that help protect existing network investments while enabling smooth migration to new, open technologies, such as SDN.