Initiative aims to improve network connections for researchers

By January 22, 2016General Interest, News

Advanced Research Computing – Technology Services (ARC-TS) has launched a new initiative aimed at facilitating uninterrupted data flow to meet the needs of researchers across campus.

Faculty and researchers experiencing problems with data flow to or from their labs or offices can contact ARC-TS by filling out this short questionnaire; ARC-TS staff will work with researchers to identify the causes of networking bottlenecks, and will implement the appropriate solutions.

The U-M network backbone operates at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps), and most academic research buildings are connected at 10 Gbps. Still, a variety of issues can slow down network connections and hamper data-intensive research, including in-building connections.

“With U-M’s 100 Gbps backbone in place across campus, the speed of data transfers should never slow down research,” said Brock Palen, Associate Director of ARC-TS. “This program is meant to identify places where connections lack sufficient bandwidth, and address those problem spots.”

Examples of data-heavy science that could benefit from this initiative include research involving next-generation sequencers, high-resolution data acquisition from the Internet of Things, telescopes, and electron microscopes.

Network connections can be especially important to researchers using such tools with collaborators in other parts of the world. Remote backups of data, and the management and analysis of sensitive data will also be improved with enhanced network capabilities.

Andy Palms, Executive Director of Communications Systems and Data Centers at ITS, added: “This initiative will remove network bottlenecks as a potential barrier to research both here on campus and in U-M’s extensive collaborations with other institutions. This program will provide our researchers with the high-speed network connections required to do cutting-edge research in today’s competitive funding environment.”

The initiative includes resources for upgrades to network connections between labs and offices and the U-M campuswide network backbone, if that portion of the network is determined to be the cause of a data flow slowdown. As many as 200 labs and offices on campus may be upgraded to either 10Gbps or 40Gbps connections.

Researchers interested in taking advantage of the program should fill out a questionnaire to help identify their areas of need.