OneOklahoma Friction Free Network Connects OK Institutions & Facilitates Research

OneNet is a vital collaborator in a new project funded by the National Science Foundation. The foundation awarded $499,961 to OneNet, The University of Oklahoma (OU), Oklahoma State University (OSU), Langston University and the Tandy Supercomputing Center, which serves higher education institutions as part of the Oklahoma Innovation Institute in Tulsa. The collaborating partners are utilizing the grant funding to create the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (OFFN).

OFFN’s 10 Gbps network ring will leverage OneNet facilities and be shared among the supercomputing centers at the four institutions. This new network will run parallel to OneNet’s current network and initially connect the four sites, with the opportunity for additional institutions to join upon its completion.

The grant was awarded in October 2013, and the network is expected to be deployed and operational by the conclusion of the grant in September 2015.

“OFFN provides a platform for advanced network technologies such as software defined networking and alternative high-bandwidth security options,” OneNet Chief Technology Officer James Deaton, a co-principal investigator on the grant, said. “Each research institution has plans for utilizing their connection, as well as establishing new collaborations among Oklahoma universities.”

One research program that will benefit from the completion of this network ring is the Oklahoma Center for High Energy Physics (OCHEP), a collaboration of researchers at OSU, OU, and Langston. OCHEP scientists are currently participating in the ATLAS project, a high energy physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

“Particle physics experiments have large networking requirements,” OU research scientist Horst Severini said, “OFFN will allow for faster, easier information sharing and allow our research capabilities to expand.”

OFFN will allow a large expansion of not only the ATLAS experiment, but also other research domains, by creating an independent network outside of campus security boundaries and restrictive firewall devices.

This ring will be built exclusively for research and research-related communication among these four institutions. Having a “friction-free” network allows scientists to perform research and send and receive data without the constraints of traditional enterprise networks.

“OFFN will enable Langston to participate in more collaborations among research institutions. It will aide us in future grant based research, as well as help redefine research in our state,” Langston Associate Professor Joel Snow said.

OneNet’s role within OFFN is the deployment and maintenance of the network. OneNet network engineers will install dedicated network switches and servers at each site and connect them to research wavelengths parallel to OneNet’s existing production network.

OFFN will enable our state’s scientists to research, design and test next-generation technology requiring high bandwidth usage, something that was not possible until now.

“This new network will empower real-world application of research projects and help OneNet fulfill our mission of advancing technology across our state,” Deaton said.

The new network also builds on other advancements in research computing that have been taking place across the state.

“OFFN is a key component of a larger statewide strategy for academic research computing, known as the OneOklahoma Cyberinfrastructure Initiative (OneOCII­),” said Henry Neeman, director of the OU Supercomputing Center for Education and Research, a division of OU Information Technology, and principal investigator of OFFN. “Through OneOCII, we’ve achieved standout research technology improvements at OU, OSU, Langston and OneNet, providing networking, supercomputing and large scale storage. We also have been working with other Oklahoma institutions to help them do the same.”

According to Neeman, the success of this strategy is unique to the state of Oklahoma.

“In the area of research computing, few other states have achieved Oklahoma’s level of collaboration among comprehensive research universities, primarily undergraduate universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. We’re a national leader in doing this, and OFFN is both a major advancement and the next logical step,” he said.

~Story by Katie Kastl, OneNet Outreach Intern, Fall 2013

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