Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Way Back Wednesday! Welcome back to Reno’s SC07

A seldom-seen photo during the blackout inside the Reno convention center at the Student Cluster Competition area.

SCinet’s Year of Epic Power Outages and Road Construction

SCinet, the world’s fastest network built each year for the SC conference by SC volunteers, has a heritage of  heroic stories about installing, bringing up, operating and managing networks and systems. Since its inception at SC91, SCinet continuously drives network resources as a platform for high performance computing, storage and analysis, the hallmark of the SC conference.  Even in 2007, this story was no different when SC went to Reno, Nevada.

At SC07, SCinet Chair Jackie Kern (SC15’s Conference Chair) led a team of more than 100 volunteers through unexpected power outages and last-minute road de-construction to bring in a whopping 200Gbps of bandwidth (cutting-edge at the time!).

With less than a month before the conference, the well-known “last mile” of fiber-optic infrastructure was needed to reach the convention center and support the network to the show floor.

Jackie Kern, SC07 SCinet Chair
“There was no other way to bring this kind of network connectivity into the convention center, so a trencher was needed to complete some last-minute road work—literally cutting the roadway outside the convention center to lay fiber into the facility,” explained Kern. This was patched with asphalt and served as a reminder that nothing stands in the way of SC’s SCinet network, which today is still a lasting connection into the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

In addition to SCinet’s dedication to bringing in the technology to make demos and applications at SC possible, during the SC07 Exhibit show Kern said “a moment of complete silence occurred when all electronic devices suddenly came to a halt.” All was quiet as the convention center experienced three “power bumps,” overrunning all the circuits to the convention center with excessive electric currents. When power was restored moments later, hundreds of devices attempted to come back online, once again overriding the facility’s power infrastructure. With coordinated and staged power up, the SCinet team worked relentlessly to restore service to all exhibitors ASAP. The restoration of the SCinet network was tedious, but all services were returned to normal operations within a few hours.

The SCinet team is always on their toes, ready to respond to a variety of inevitable and unforeseeable hiccups. That said, all volunteers would agree these amazing, priceless experiences contribute to learning opportunities available only by building the fastest network in the world that is planned for one year, set up in one month, operated for one week, and torn down in 24 hours!