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NYSERNet Keeps UB on the Cutting Edge

By Blake Cooper

Published May 19, 2015

You may have had no idea that UB is a member of NYSERNet, a statewide non-profit group dedicated to bringing state-of-the-art network technology to New York’s research institutions. But the benefits UB receives from being a NYSERNet member put UB in a class all its own, especially after recent upgrades.

Blake Cooper (UB Student, Class of 2016) is originally from Canandaigua, NY. He is studying Spanish, Linguistics and Comparative Literature, and beginning work on translating an Argentinian novel into English.

Unlimited Potential

What are those benefits? "It’s all about speed," Bill Owens, NYSERNet’s Chief Technology Officer, told UBIT News, "Our network offers the ability to move enormous amounts of data quickly in order to facilitate research and education."

Recently completed upgrades to NYSERNet’s leading-edge network have increased the capacity to move data across the network tenfold, with NYSERNet’s backbone went from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps, increasing UB’s connection from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps. Joseph Pautler, Senior Communication Systems Engineer (NCS), worked on the upgrades, linking UB’s infrastructure with NYSERnet’s next-generation optical transport technology.

"Although our NYSERNet link previously had plenty of headroom to spare," Joe said, "The interaction between the researchers and the data will demand this additional bandwidth in the future."

According to Tom Furlani, Director of the Center for Computational Research (CCR), "This upgrade will help us collaborate with the New York Genome Center. In the past, it has taken us days to transfer 10 TB of data, and we envision even larger transfers, into petabytes, being needed in the future. Without this upgrade, the collaboration would not be possible. NYSERNet was also instrumental in enabling the CCR to work on an NSF grant."

Access to grants is often greatly dependent on the ability to collaborate. "Granting agencies in the federal government often prefer collaborative projects between universities," said Mark Deuell, Director of Network and Classroom Services (NCS), part of UB Information Technology. "NYSERNet’s network enables that communication and collaboration."

Through NYSERNet, UB has access to the national Internet2 network, connecting research institutions across the country. Mark says there are also less obvious benefits to belonging to NYSERNet and Internet2. Technology currently being used at UB, such as the Shibboleth login and eduroam Wi-Fi network, evolved out of the advancements made by Internet2. As technology continues to evolve, UB has the advantage of staying one step ahead.

"We get the benefit of belonging to a group that is on the edge in terms of technology," Mark said. He cites UB’s project to transition to IPv6 as one such benefit: UB is already enabling the new Internet protocol at a time when just over 6% of Internet traffic comes via IPv6.

For Dr. Joseph Woelfel, professor in UB’s Department of Communication, the greater promise of being a NYSERNet member is not that it enables scientific research, but rather that it reaffirms UB’s role as "a research institution in the 21 century."

"It’s not necessarily that we need this kind of computing power so a scientist like me can do complex processing, at this time," Joseph said. "It’s about being a part of a social process that’s happening whether we decide to keep up or not."

Moving Forward

These recent upgrades to NYSERNet’s network prove that the group’s commitment to the cutting edge has not diminished.

"Sometimes when we make upgrades, they’re incremental improvements," Bill Owens said. "But other times, they’re big leaps. This upgrade is a big leap forward."

When NYSERNet stays ahead, UB stays ahead. Imagine the potential of UB researchers winning competitive grants and collaborating on big data research on a scale ten times greater than it does today.

A big leap forward indeed.