UB Launches Its Own High-Speed Data Line to Link Campuses, Affiliated Research Institutions, Boosting Speed by a Factor of 1,000

Release Date: October 14, 2003 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo this fall will lay approximately 14 miles of fiber-optic cable to enhance critical, high-speed data links between its two campuses and with affiliated research institutions, providing critical connectivity to support its research activity, particularly for the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

Construction on the new fiber-optic line will begin within the next few weeks. The data line is expected to be complete and operational by the end of this year, according to Voldemar A. Innus, UB vice president and chief information officer.

The cable will be installed in the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Metro Rail tunnel and in above-ground and underground locations approved by the City of Buffalo to reach the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI), Roswell Park Cancer Institute, UB's Research Institute on Addictions and UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, both at its current location at 901 Washington St. and the new building that will house the center being constructed at Ellicott and Virginia streets on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The Bioinformatics Network Initiative, (BNI) as the UB effort is called, will allow for a 1,000-fold increase in the speed with which massive amounts of research data are transmitted between UB and the downtown locations.

The new, high-speed, fiber-optic link also will make Western New York more attractive for the creation and relocation of high-tech businesses.

At UB, as is the case at universities nationwide, the need for a high-performance communication infrastructure has grown as its research has expanded beyond its campuses' physical perimeters.

"The campus is no longer the limiting factor in where the university conducts its business," said Mark Deuell, director of operational support services at UB. "University research facilities that are located outside of our North and South campuses need high-bandwidth connectivity."

"UB has developed an innovative and cost-effective solution to its ever-increasing need for fiber- optic capacity," added Innus. "The university benefits from having its own infrastructure linking our North and South campuses and our partner institutions. It allows us to increase capacity on our own terms, when we need it and how we need it."

Because of huge databases and research applications that need very fast response times, Deuell explained, the university requires really big "pipes" or connections to transmit data.

"That's an order of magnitude above what the general population needs," he said. "By building our own fiber infrastructure, we will have access to nearly unlimited capacity in those pipes."

For example, it now takes about six hours for UB researchers at HWI to send massive datasets containing information about the structures of proteins to their collaborators at the University of Toronto.

"If you want to send several batches of these per day, and it takes six hours per batch, then your system is tied up all day," said E. Bruce Pitman, Ph.D., associate dean for research and sponsored programs in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

With the new network system in place, it will take just minutes for HWI researchers to send datasets of that size from their desktop machines, he said.

The new network also significantly enhances the connection from the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics to the supercomputers in the Center for Computational Research on the North Campus.

The BNI was motivated initially by the research partnerships that link UB and HWI, and which led to the establishment of the UB Department of Structural Biology at HWI.

The establishment of the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics made the UB network all the more critical, said Pitman.

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