UCI LightPath

The UCI LightPath project establishes a new Science DMZ network infrastructure with increased bandwidth at the University of California, Irvine to address the increasing demand for bandwidth and data-transfer performance within and beyond campus. The project implements a new 10 Gbps link from campus to the High Performance Research tier of the California Research and Education Network (CalREN-HPR) to boost science data transfer and analysis. Together these improvements to the networking infrastructure significantly enhance and expedite scientific data transfer by reducing bottlenecks and performance impacting issues in the data-transfer path. The project allows campus IT personnel to work closely with researchers to explore and deploy new technologies such as the Software Defined Network (SDN) and IPv6, which are useful to a data-intensive user community.

The improved Science DMZ network infrastructure directly impacts a variety of cutting-edge data intensive research efforts across campus by enabling more complex modeling and analysis of big data sets, and facilitating data exchange among collaborative research groups in the areas of Experimental Particle Physics at the Large Hadron Collider, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Hydrologic Modeling and Remote Sensing, Flow and Combustion Dynamics of Liquid Fuels, Biomolecular Simulations, Climate Modeling, and Cosmology.

This project integrates IT research and education through an organized IT work-study program in the Office of Information Technology, which provides a platform to train future network engineers and operators. UCI LightPath also supports existing K-12 outreach programs by enabling the transfer of big-data created in the lab to the programs for use in their curricula.

UCI LightPath Proposal Overview

University of California, Irvine (UCI) is an active research institution with numerous research grants from NSF and other Federal agencies. In recent years, research projects have become increasingly data-intensive. Since 2010, the average daily data volume transferred by UCI’s connection to CalREN-HPR, our gateway to research and education networks on the Internet, has increased by approximately 40% inbound, and 130% outbound. With increasing demands for bandwidth and performance to transfer large data sets in and out of campus to facilities such as CERN, the National Labs, and Supercomputer Centers, as well as for transfers within and between campus science and engineering buildings and campus data centers, UCI urgently needs to enhance campus networking infrastructure and re-architect the network. UCI’s current data transfer infrastructure is inadequate, and is impacting our faculty’s capacity to efficiently collect and analyze scientific research data.

We propose the following network infrastructure improvements to provide researchers with a fast path for large scientific data transfer.  (For a diagrammatic view of LightPath see UCI LightPath diagram.)

1) A new 10Gbps link from the campus network to CalREN-HPR, the High Performance Research tier of the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), which has been serving as a “Science DMZ” for UCI to connect to National Research and Education Networks on the Internet.

2) UCI LightPath: a Science DMZ infrastructure dedicated for science data transfer within and beyond campus to significantly improve data transfer performance currently suboptimal due to inadequate bandwidth to campus science and engineering buildings. Along with the proposed network infrastructure, perfSONAR servers will be deployed in strategic network segments to measure performance and throughput for science data flow. Scientific data transfer performance data will be collected and compared with existing data. In addition, IPv6, Software Defined Network (SDN) and other new technologies are in the deployment plan. As a member of the global InCommon federation, the technology can be implemented to provide an authentication mechanism for accessing the nodes on the infrastructure by the community for data sharing and collaboration.

Intellectual Merit

Based on OIT’s statistical data on bandwidth utilization and knowledge of where researchers with data-intensive projects are located, the following seven science and engineering buildings have been selected to have the UCI LightPath infrastructure extended to them: Rowland Hall, Reines Hall, Sprague Hall, McGaugh Hall, Natural Sciences I, Engineering Gateway, Croul Hall, and OIT Data Center (in Engineering Gateway).

Expediting data transfer at the seven sites identified will improve research outcomes in a variety of cutting-edge science and engineering data-intensive research efforts, including experimental particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider, combustion dynamics of fossil fuels, biomolecular simulations, human genome sequencing, climate change modeling, measurement of Earth’s water cycle, and understanding of the process of galaxy formation. More complex models and closer examination of data will be enabled. UCI Office of Information Technology (OIT) resources will implement and operate the proposed infrastructure in the same operational fashion as it manages the existing campus network. This arrangement will continue after the two-year grant period.

Broader Impacts

UCI LightPath will build a stronger computational infrastructure and network pathways for current UCI researchers and future hires across multiple schools (i.e. Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, Information and Computer Sciences, and Medicine), and accelerate progress in important science and engineering areas such as understanding how the universe is formed, mapping and simulating the global impact of climate change, understanding and thus improving the efficiency of fossil fuels, and mapping the human genome. UCI LightPath will enable researchers to work routinely with colleagues across campus, across disciplines, and at distant institutions. Additionally, this project will allow for UCI’s researchers and IT staff to attend relevant conferences to discuss lessons learned and ways to further disseminate this knowledge to the community and the general public. UCI LightPath will integrate education and research by providing new curriculum material for existing K-12 outreach programs, and through training work-study undergraduate students in OIT.

This project is funded by a National Science Foundation CC-NIE Grant.  Grant ID: 1341038