Members of the Scientific Computing faculty are key participants in one of the first Big Data Initiative grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant is part of President Obama’s initiative to improve the nation’s ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data and to accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering.

The grant will enable FSU to augment the campus network infrastructure by building a private, dedicated campus research path called the NoleNet Express-Lane for use by professors whose research demands an extremely high levels of data transfers and computations. The new “express-lane” network will allow private access and encourage collaboration among and between research partners - on and off FSU’s campus. High Performance Computing (HPC) Director James Wilgenbusch is one of the co-PIs, and will work closely with research faculty and other FSU technology professionals so that the proposed network enhancements noticeably improve FSU’s research capabilities.

James Wilgenbusch

“Having a dedicated, high-speed research network is at the core of our efforts to qualitatively improve FSU research cyber infrastructure,“ said Wilgenbusch. “A dedicated research network with high-speed connections to our regional optical network gives us a way to create research workflows, which can open up new research possibilities and significantly accelerate existing research efforts.”

The grant will fund hardware needed for the project, which will be installed in FSU’s existing core campus switches, and will utilize dark fiber to upgrade access pathways to Florida LambdaRail, Florida’s statewide high-speed network. The LambdaRail network will in turn connect to national networks such as Internet2 and others.

SC Department Interim Chair Gordon Erlebacher sees the scientific potential of such an initiative. “The size of datasets continues to increase at seemingly exponential rates. Access to dedicated high-speed research networks is an essential ingredient to remain competitive in the research arena, and allow for the exploration of new modalities of interaction and collaboration.”

Wilgenbusch worked in concert with biological science faculty whose research will benefit from the added performance and extended research community made available, and with Scientific Computing Assistant Professor Alan Lemmon, who is also a co-PI on the award. “We are collecting trillions of nucleotides of DNA sequence data each month. This new resource will really help make it possible to migrate those data so that analyses can be performed efficiently,“ Lemmon said.

Creating the NoleNet Express-Lane and upgrading campus connections to the Florida LambdaRail will enhance currently supported workflows dependent on core campus resources, improve the ability to rapidly implement research workflows and data analysis, and fully realize opportunities to advance work related to leading-edge and emerging network technologies. No longer will specialized research have to compete for network resources with general campus enterprise activities.

Scientific Computing/HPC, Information Technology Services, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry collaborated on the two-year, $230,248 award.

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