Universities have been pioneer participants in developing and using the internet since its inception. Now, the consortium of education and research institutions known as Internet2 has reached another milestone, with the announcement that the University of Florida has implemented Internet2’s next-gen computing architecture, the Innovation Platform. The platform should bring superfast connections and software-defined networking (SDN) to campuses across the country.
The 300 or so universities and government labs that belong to Internet2 have been able to access a 100Gb network backbone since its launch in 2006. But on Tuesday UF became only the fourth university to roll out a full 100Gbps connection to Internet2 (most other schools are still at 10Gbps and working to expand to full bandwidth), and the only school so far to fulfill the other two Innovation Platform requirements: SDN and a Science DMZ, a kind of buffer between the campus network and the wider internet that lets research computing move freely without firewalls. The amplified bandwidth will let researchers share huge amounts of data or access supercomputer resources, like the simultaneously announced HiPerGator. With a peak speed of 150 teraflops, HiPerGator is Florida’s fastest supercomputer and one of the top 500 supercomputers globally.
Everything from genome sequencing to drug discovery and climate modeling relies on computing power, and 30-odd schools are working to realize the Innovation Platform to fully take advantage of big data research and long-distance collaboration. SDN, for example, will allow disparate machines to be programmed to communicate, share, and manipulate data, a step towards a massive academic data center. Another project that will be made possible by the Innovation Platform is the Global Environment for Network Innovations, a testbed for exploring future internets and developing network science and engineering breakthroughs that is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Internet2 has been a roll lately on other fronts, collaborating with the Smithsonian Institution on content distribution and launching a videoconferencing service from Vidyo. There are also over 30 cloud services available to Internet2 member institutions, including collaboration, storage, and productivity apps. While Internet2 is in no way designed to replace the commercial web, the tech it spawns will probably impact the cyberinfrastructure we depend on, and that will be crucial for fields like tele-medicine and big data.
Images via Internet2