In a very “tight” budget year, OIT Communication Technologies (ComTech) sought external funding to enhance the campus network infrastructure. Its reward — a $499,890 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its sound proposal to develop a new network autobahn that will deliver high-volume data transfers to NC State researchers.
The network infrastructure and engineering grant will help finance network switches at strategic points in the campus network to eliminate bottlenecks and increase access layer bandwidth to support big data and analytics. This new network architecture will provide immediate benefit to researchers, staff and students across diverse disciplines who are generating, processing and sharing more data than ever before.
Currently, the university offers 10 or 100 Mb/s network connectors in most campus buildings. With the new funding, some researchers will receive 1 Gb/s network connections, and network uplinks to additional campus buildings will be upgraded to 10 Gb/s.
The new network will leverage agile techniques like software-defined networking (SDN) to meet current and future needs of the campus community. SDN administrators can completely control network traffic via a software interface without having to manually touch individual switches. SDN will allow NC State to construct a dynamic “Virtualized Science DMZ” to allow researchers their own slice of the campus network, uninterrupted by other campus network traffic.
This project creates a roadmap that allows the university to extend these agile and high-bandwidth services progressively to a larger variety of campus researchers as data transfer needs grow and evolve. By extending SDN capabilities, in partnership with the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), the university will provide SDN-capable bandwidth to other regional universities and the Internet2 Advanced Layer 2 Research Network, ultimately improving the ability to conduct leading-edge research.
Grant participants include NC State CIO Dr. Marc Hoit, principal investigator, and co-principal investigators Greg Sparks, ComTech director; Will Brockelsby, ComTech lead network architect; and Dr. Rudra Dutta, professor of computer science.