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Big Data and the Role of Advanced Regional Networks

Our Quilt members play a critical role in aggregating support for big data, and the importance of that role was highlighted in an excellent presentation at the Internet2 Spring 2013 Member Conference this week.

The panelists included: Mark Johnson from MCNC; Steven Corbato from the University of Utah and the Utah Education Network; Marla Meehl from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Front Range GigaPoP; and Wendy Huntoon from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Three Rivers Optical Exchange and Internet2.

These panelists had recently attended a workshop focused on the role of advanced regional networks (ARNs) in supporting big data. The workshop was a follow-on to an earlier, National Science Foundation-funded workshop on the role of ARNs in connecting community anchor institutions.

While there is no question that Quilt members’ support for big data requirements is critical, the specifics surrounding these roles present a host of challenges. The panelists noted that there is no practical way for network capabilities to move the exponentially growing amount of data being generated. Instead, we need to work on changing the paradigm by developing an integrated solution that minimizes which data is moved, streamlines what is saved, standardizes metadata and invests in resources to develop data services, tools and standards.

We also need to educate users. The panelists said that one important role for regional networks is to help disseminate best practices among those scientific research disciplines which are leaders in managing big data to other research disciplines.

More information about this recent workshop can be found at: https://www.mcnc.org/envision. One outcome of the workshop will be a white paper that captures the recommendations for ARNs as critical partners in supporting data driven science. When available, we’ll make this document available to our community.