CWRU among seven universities piloting new research-focused technology

Case Western Reserve University has joined a nationwide effort to pilot new technology designed to advance scientific research and reduce higher education costs. As part of the initiative, researchers will be able to send data 10 times faster than previously—at the rate of 100 Gigabits per second—which will enable better collaboration, spur more “Big Data” projects and promote the commercialization of research.

Case Western Reserve, Arizona State University, University of Cincinnati, Clemson University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University and The Ohio State University will join regional partners OARnet (Ohio), I-Light (Indiana) and Southern-Crossroads (Southeast United States) to be part of the Internet2 Network’s first open, national-scale test of innovations such as Software Defined Networking and OpenFlow standards. The campus also will participate in the world’s first transcontinental network deployment of 100G technology.

Case Western Reserve researchers produce enormous volumes of data they need to analyze and share. These “Big Data” research projects are crucial to the country’s future as a leader in research; the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently announced the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” to accelerate the pace of discovery in research.

But effectively collaborating on such high-volume projects requires a more efficient, secure and reliable way of sharing information.

Internet2, a technology community founded in 1996 by the nation’s leading higher education institutions, has developed a 100G “information superhighway,” but the network currently doesn’t have an “exit” in Cleveland—or in many places around the country, explained Chief Information Officer Lev Gonick. By joining the initiative, Case Western Reserve, Cincinnati and Ohio State will help expand this superhighway throughout Ohio, and Arizona State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Indiana will connect even more parts of the country.

The increased opportunity for collaboration could be a major point of differentiation when it comes to receiving funding for federal grants or for the commercialization of research, Gonick noted.

Through the Internet2 Network, Case Western Reserve researchers will be able to share data instantaneously with other researchers connected to the network. This collaboration will occur in real time—without a major lag as the data travels across a crowded information highway to reach its destination.

“Today, if you’re trying to do the most advanced, ‘Big Data’ research, you basically have just 10 lanes on the highway between here and anywhere else in the country,” Gonick said. “When this project gets lit, it will allow researchers in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland to use, basically, 100 lanes of activity. And they’re not only going to be able to travel up and down [Interstate] 71—they’ll be able to get across the country to super computer facilities or other major research hubs.”

Through the Internet2 Innovation Platform, Case Western Reserve University also will gain technology solutions to reduce higher education costs, such as secure, reliable data transmissions into a cloud environment and support for the use of bandwidth-consuming multimedia in education.

Case Western Reserve, Ohio State and Cincinnati received support from Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Board of Regents and OARnet to be the first state in the country to offer 100G network services to its researchers. The 100G infrastructure between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati is being built without any costs to the campuses; the total cost for using the new network is still being discussed, Gonick said.

Case Western Reserve should be on this ultra-high-speed network within the next 12 months, he said.

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