CC-NIE Integration: Advancing Science through Next Generation SDN Networks

Grants and Contracts Details


This project addresses a widespread problem for research universities: ever-growing demands for improved cyberinfrastructure to support data-intensive scientific research. While a strong case could be made that bandwidth needs alone can justify investment in cyberinfrastructure improvements, a less obvious, but equally important challenge is the need to provide a wide range of services to a wide range of users subject to a wide range of policies. In particular, even if facilities can be upgraded to 10's or 100's of gigabits per second, it may not be possible to apply the necessary policies in-band or offer other services at such rates. To address these problems, we propose to create a new campus research network infrastructure at the University of Kentucky based on emerging Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology, with the goal of enabling scientific research not previously possible using conventional network designs. This project, a partnership led by the CIO of the University of Kentucky Information Technology (UKIT) using technology and services from UK Computer Science, the Laboratory for Advanced Networking, and the UK Center for Computational Sciences, brings together expertise and experience in network operations/management, software defined networking, and scientific research and computing. Our goal is not just to upgrade the network, but rather to build new infrastructure tailored to the needs of researchers. We will create a flexible programmable/configurable network infrastructure capable of evolving over time to meet the specific needs of the ever-changing scientific research projects at UK, and providing highspeed SDN-enabled connections into the regional (KyRON) and national backbones (Internet 2). From a performance perspective, we expect data transfer rates to improve by at least 2 orders of magnitude for specific projects in physics, biology, bioinformatics, and computer science. This project also leverages UK's past involvement and participation in the GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovation) program, as well as our expertise with instrumentation and monitoring of the GENI network. As part of the project, we plan to use the resulting network infrastructure as a testbed for UK research projects supported by the NSF FIA (Future Internet Architecture) program. Intellectual Merit: Innovative aspects of this approach include the use of an SDN research infrastructure to give researchers in the sciences capabilities significantly beyond what they have today, including specialized traffic policies, and eventually the ability to set up the instrumentation and measurement infrastructure needed to monitor their data flows (INSTOOLS/GEMINI project). These features will enable significant advances in physics, biology, bioinformatics, and visualization, basically enabling science research that was previously impossible or at best difficult. It will also enable research into future network architectures and designs, providing a testbed for NSF FIA projects going on at UK. Broader Impact: The cyberinfrastructure created by this project will enhance scientific research that spans a wide range of disciplines. Furthermore, the proposed network will facilitate research in the area of future network architecture designs. As a part of the GENI network, portions of the proposed infrastructure will be available to researchers outside of UK, enabling research projects at other institutions. Within the state of Kentucky, colleges and universities serving underrepresented groups (for example, Kentucky State University) will be able to share the proposed SDN network infrastructure via KyRON. The proposed network will also facilitate new educational opportunities by providing a platform for hands-on experimentation in networking and distributed systems courses, by enhancing our ability to offer tutorials and demonstrations about the emerging GENI network, and by improving our ability to offer on-line courses through video distribution. The science projects described in the proposal will involve both graduate and undergraduate students in the research, providing them with access to the latest advances in their chosen area of study and exposing them to big-data problems and data-intensive computing. The project team will continue their existing on-going efforts to recruit students underrepresented in STEM fields to these projects as well.
Effective start/end date10/1/129/30/15


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