SCinet is the research and production network that serves as the backbone of data communications for the annual SC Conference. By using SDN in the SCinet network, the group of network engineers deploying SCinet will be able to transfer the task of configuring individual network switching devices to a single piece of software, removing human error from the process of setting up connections within the network.
|Nick Buraglio, SDN Project Lead|
As the pilot year for this SDN project, half of SCinet’s circa one hundred, one-gigabit booth connections will be SDN configured. This technology will simplify managing these network connections and will hopefully reduce the time engineers spend troubleshooting configuration and provisioning errors.
“Previously SCinet had to create its own configurations for devices which required a unique configuration template for each device along a path. Using SDN, we can take all the idiosyncrasies of various devices into account and configure these devices using a single piece of software,” said J.P. Velders, a network engineer from the University of Amsterdam and co-chair of SCinet’s routing team.
Although still an emerging technology, SCinet anticipates that SDN will increase efficiencies. This network provides a unique platform for running high performance computing (HPC) applications and demonstrations at the SC conference, which is in its 27th year. SCinet, built by more than 100 volunteers from academia, industry and government, has been providing the network connectivity and platform for HPC research at SC since 1991.
|From left: SCinet volunteers J.P. Velders, Paul Wefel, Conan Moore and Davey Wheeler (SCinet Chair)|
To implement SDN, SCinet is partnering with Brocade, a network technology company. Brocade is providing both the routing and switching equipment, and the Controller software, which uses OpenFlow, the feature that enables SCinet to deploy SDN across multiple devices.
The SCinet team used OpenFlow in 2014 with Big Switch Networks technology for cybersecurity applications. “Last year we monitored network traffic for security events using SDN to control the security monitoring infrastructure,” Buraglio said.
While SDN will be isolated to part of the SCinet network this year, Velders anticipates that the technology will span the entire network by 2016.
“Our goal is to scale up the use of SDN to the entire network which will save time when having to configure several hundreds of booth connections and their associated circuits. It will allow us to become more agile and more flexible to accommodate changes and requests,” Velders said.