SURFnet, a global leader in advanced network research, is enhancing the collaborative powers of academics at universities and higher education institutions in The Netherlands using a Nortel intelligent optical solution. The network powers the showcase StarPlane project which utilises pure optical technology to deliver on-demand computing power.
The 40Gbps-ready Adaptive All Optical Intelligent solution for SURFnet includes the Dynamic Resource Allocation Controller (DRAC) which enables user-control of network resources for high-performance networking applications like computing and media services.
The SURFnet6 network delivers routed IP and lightpath services to 180 institutes for research and higher education in The Netherlands. Dutch institutions use advanced research collaboration worldwide in fields as diverse as medical research and radio astronomy. These disciplines also require user-controlled networking resources and it is for these applications that DRAC has been developed.
DRAC provides users with a web interface for point-and-click or automated activation of wavelengths on a network carrying live traffic. This allows users to create and schedule point-to-point connections on the network at will, delivering the flexibility and efficiency of networking in scientific experiments and applications. The intelligent Nortel solution delivers simple, user-controlled, on-demand access to a network of wavelength switches for enabling bandwidth-intensive research tasks such as medical imaging and radio astronomy. The service gives end-users the ability to deploy high bandwidth connections between locations on the network for temporary use, for example to connect scientific instruments, stream high quality live video, or share computing resources.
The StarPlane project provides researchers with access to massive computing power delivering the equivalent of the processing capacity of 500 personal computers to the desktop. StarPlane uses pure optical technology to link the Distributed ASCI Supercomputer 3 (DAS-3) computer clusters at five locations in The Netherlands into a grid to enable delivery of bandwidth on-demand, e.g. enabling computer scientists to reconfigure the topology of the distributed supercomputer. On-demand service activation of photonic networking is delivered using an extension to Nortel’s Dynamic Resource Allocation Controller (DRAC) platform.
“SURFnet6 is a global showcase for how adaptive optical intelligent networks can be used to support the work of researchers in academic institutions worldwide,” said Peter Newcombe, president, Carrier Networks, Nortel EMEA. “The optical solution for SURFnet can also be applied to other areas such as using digital technology to distribute and project movies, healthcare for medical imaging, or any business that needs to deliver bandwidth-intensive media streams.”
“Our next-generation hybrid optical and packet switching network delivered a paradigm shift in research networking,” said Kees Neggers, managing director, SURFnet. “The full photonic implementation of the SURFnet6 network brings alive the possibilities created by coupling the applications and the network and is delivering a flexible application network experience that puts the high-end users and advanced applications in the driver’s seat.”
“Traditionally networks are seen as unpredictable resources and this project is changing that picture allowing for a wealth of new research,” said Cees de Laat, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). “With grid middleware interacting directly on the nationwide photonic layer enabling specification of optimal topologies per computational job, we are able to add another dimension in the resource allocation algorithms.”
The SURFnet6 network, built using Nortel’s