Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Upgrades Bandwidth and Connectivity in West Virginia June 07, 2012

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Upgrades Bandwidth and Connectivity in West Virginia

PSC collaboration with WVU, WVNET and federal research facilities transforms West Virginia network landscape.

PITTSBURGH — The Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX), the high-performance Internet hub operated and managed by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has significantly upgraded the link between PSC and West Virginia University (WVU). At the same time, WVNET (West Virginia Network), a network organization that serves schools, government and non-profits in West Virginia, has joined 3ROX, which gives West Virginia clients of WVNET a significant bandwidth upgrade as well as access to expanded research and education resources.


The new 3ROX link to WVU increases bandwidth 64-fold — from 155 megabits per second (Mbps) to 10 gibabits per second (Gbps). “This is a big step forward for research and education connectivity to WVU,” says Wendy Huntoon, PSC director of networking. The upgrade enhances support for clean-energy related research at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory with campuses in Morgantown and Pittsburgh. NETL researchers use the 3ROX link to access supercomputing resources at PSC.


By joining as a participant in 3ROX, WVNET upgrades connectivity from West Virginia K-20 schools to research and education networks such as Internet2 — from eight 155 Mbps links (aggregating to about five Gbps) to two 10 Gbps connections (one from Morgantown and another from Huntington). Among other education and government facilities, the upgraded WVNET bandwidth will link the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) facility in Greenbank, West Virginia, with WVU and the WVU Astrophysics program. From WVU, the 3ROX/WVU high-bandwidth link will then connect NRAO Greenbank with the global astronomy community.


More important to WVNET than the improved bandwidth per se, says Dan O’Hanlon, director of WVNET, is the collaboration with 3ROX. “We’ve wanted to become more involved in the educational community,” says O’Hanlon, “and participating in 3ROX meets our goals. It’s a big gain for West Virginia that we’re now able to collaborate with people who are involved in supercomputing and have world-class experience in running a research and education network.”


The catalyst for the collaboration and the upgrades, says Huntoon, was the 10 Gbps connection that 3ROX provided last year for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Security Computing Center in Fairmont, West Virginia. “The NOAA grant was stimulus funding,” says Huntoon, “and because we had infrastructure in place, we’ve been able to provide these expanded services very competitively from a cost perspective. We formed an effective partnership with WVNET, WVU, NETL and NOAA and these upgrades — to a total of 40 Gbps within a year — transform the West Virginia Internet landscape.”


More information about 3ROX:


About PSC:

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center XSEDE Backbone June 04, 2012

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Provides Direct Link from Galaxy to the XSEDE Backbone

PITTSBURGH —Mountains of genomics data that had to work their way through a bottleneck of network connections now have a direct, high-speed link to the world’s most powerful data-processing resources — thanks to network engineering at the Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX).

3ROX, a high-performance Internet hub operated and managed by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has put into place a high-bandwidth link from Galaxy, a data-intensive bioinformatics program at Penn State, to the network backbone of the National Science Foundation’s XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) program. This link opens the high-performance computing (HPC) resources of XSEDE to a research community that has not traditionally been a big user of HPC but, with emerging genomics technologies, will benefit greatly from using it.

This is the first dedicated link from a site that’s not an XSEDE “service provider” to the XSEDE network backbone, said Wendy Huntoon, PSC director of networking, and Penn State is a pilot site to do this because of Galaxy. “This link,” she added, “enables a much more efficient capability for Galaxy to get its work done.”

Galaxy, an open, web-based platform for biomedical research, allows biologists, who traditionally have not had the need to use HPC technologies in their research, to do complex data analyses in easy, web-based protocols. Galaxy has more than 10,000 users who run 4-5,000 analyses daily. Genomics data, in particular, has exploded over the last few years as a result of “next-generation sequencing” — which makes it possible to read DNA sequences at dramatically improved speeds compared to prior technologies.

Genomics researchers, however, need to assemble the sequences accurately into complete genomes and analyze them, and the skyrocketing quantities of data pose a research bottleneck, to which 3ROX and XSEDE now offer a solution. The new link to XSEDE, facilitated by 3ROX, is a 10-gigabit per second (10 billion bits per second) fiber-optic based link that greatly improves Galaxy’s connectivity to XSEDE sites.

“Next-generation sequencing is the biological version of the radio telescope,” says Anton Nekrutenko, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, who co-developed Galaxy. “These emerging technologies place huge demands on data analysis and storage.”

“The network connection to XSEDE through PSC is a huge breakthrough,” adds Nekrutenko. “It provides us with the ability to run up to 150,000 jobs per month, and we expect to quadruple that as this link gets fully up and running. It allows biologists to take advantage of HPC resources in ways they otherwise could not, not only the computing, but the storage resources at XSEDE sites. It democratizes research by making XSEDE useful for a scientific community that traditionally has not been a heavy user of high-performance computing.”

A four-year grant of $1.5-million to 3ROX in 2010 through NSF’s Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI) program provided support for the new high-bandwidth link. “This ARI grant is intended to advance ‘meritorious scientific research,’” said Huntoon, “and we were able to provide the equipment from this funding.”

Through XSEDE’s Extended Collaborative Support Service (ECSS), XSEDE staff are working with Galaxy scientists to develop capability that will allow biologists to transparently use XSEDE data analysis and storage resources as needed. Led by ECSS “Science Gateways” manager Suresh Marru (Indiana University), ECSS consultants Terri Schwartz (San Diego Supercomputer Center) and Josephine Palencia (PSC) are collaborating with Galaxy staff to incorporate distributed data analysis and management capabilities into future versions of Galaxy software.

More about 3ROX:

About PSC:

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Company. Established in 1986, PSC is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry, and is a partner in the National Science Foundation TeraGrid program.

About XSEDE:


XSEDE, the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, is the most advanced, powerful, and robust collection of integrated digital resources and services in the world. It is a single virtual system that scientists and researchers can use to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise. XSEDE integrates the resources and services, makes them easier to use, and helps more people use them. The five-year, $121 million project is supported by the National Science Foundation, and it replaces and expands on the NSF TeraGrid project.

The Quilt Releases its 2012 OpenFlow Switch RFP May 11, 2012

The Quilt Releases National RFP for OpenFlow Enabled Network Switches


The Quilt, Inc. (The Quilt) is a collaboration of advanced regional network organizations. It is a dynamic forum where leaders from throughout the advanced research and education network community build on the intellectual capital and best practices of network service providers worldwide. Based on the participants’ combined experiences in operations and development of leading edge technologies, The Quilt aims to influence the national agenda on information technology infrastructure, with particular emphasis on networking. Through this coalition, The Quilt promotes delivery of networking services at lower cost, higher performance, greater reliability, and heightened security. The Quilt derives support and primary funding from its participants. For a full listing and description of each of the current Quilt participants, please see The Quilt Participants

There is a well-defined track record of success for companies who have created meaningful partnerships with this leading-edge networking community. Quilt organizations and the institutions they connect are consistently early adopters of new technologies, including but not limited to network technologies and ways of implementing them. The Quilt also leads the curve in finding new ways to organize networks to multi-organizational benefit. Our unsurpassed level of expertise in the customer community has been a valuable resource to our industry partners.

2012 OpenFlow Switch RFP Documents Open Flow Switch RFP

Goals of the OpenFlow Switch RFP

One of the missions of the research and education community is to engage with its many partners, including industry, to design, develop and support experimental, leading edge technologies in order to drive advancements in academic networking and research. The goals of this RFP effort are to:

  • define a preferred set of configurations for OpenFlow enabled equipment for the research and education community
  • provide a sensible set of switch options for Regional and campus networks to purchase OpenFlow enabled equipment
  • promote and enable software -defined networking capabilities to scale to more regional and campus networks by leveraging our community’s collective experience and interest in software-defined networking
  • identify and partner with equipment providers who are creating a new development platform around the ideas of OpenFlow

The Quilt’s 2012 OpenFlow Switch RFP Revised Schedule

Event Date
RFP Release May 11, 2012
Non-Binding Letter of Intent to Respond Due

May 21, 2012

Due Date for OpenFlow RFP Submission to The Quilt (11:59 pm EST)

June 22, 2012

Providers Selected to be OpenFlow Switch Authorized Quilt Provider (AQP)

August 13, 2012

OpenFlow Switch Master Services Agreement Signed

Week of September 24, 2012

OpenFlow Switch AQP Now Authorized to Sell Under Quilt Pricing Agreement

Week of September 24, 2012

Summary of The Quilt’s OpenFlow RFP Question and Answers:

  1. Q: Can The Quilt share the names of the companies who have submitted a letter of intent to bid on this RFP?
    A: The Quilt will not release names of companies who have submitted letters of intent to bid on the RFP.
  2. Q: Will questions and answers related to the content of the RFP be shared with other vendors?
    A: Yes, questions and answers will be shared with other vendors. These will be updated on the RFP page of our Quilt website:
  3. Q: What is the duration of the contract, and options for renewals?
    A: Duration of the initial contract will be 12 months with option for renewal by mutual agreement by both parties.
  4. Q: What is the projected volume of purchases during the length of the contract?
    A: The RFP is a purchasing vehicle for those organizations and institutions included on the Authorized Quilt Buyers list included in the RFP. There is no requirement by these institutions to purchase so there is no guarantee of a specific volume of sales based on the contract.
  5. Q: Can you please provide us with a copy of your Master Service Agreement?
    A: A sample copy of the Master Service Agreement can be found here.
  6. Q: Considering the time frame involved, would The Quilt consider granting a 2 week extension?
    A: Yes, a two week extension has been provided for the response due date. Please see updated RFP schedule for new dates.
  7. Q: Referencing the list of Authorized Quilt Buyers included in the back of the RFP document, please describe how the list is managed. For example, how do institutions get added to the list?
    A: There are 29 Quilt members included on the list. Each Quilt member manages the list of institutions that come in under them on the list. When Quilt members wish to add additional institutions, they notify Quilt staff of these changes and then Quilt staff updates the list and distributes and updated list out to authorized vendors. If there is an institution that is not on the list but interested in purchasing, the vendor should contact The Quilt who will who will then contact the Quilt Member to inquire about the institution in question.
  8. Q: Pertaining to item 3c of the RFP – “Should support OFP_LOCAL rules to allow traffic to be received by the local device” – please provide examples of use cases that are the motivation for support for OFP_LOCAL and the primary protocols that are of interest.
    A: This RFP aims to cover a wide range of different deployment scenarios for switch use by campus networks, regional networks and participation in GENI. This RFP is the opportunity to provide potential buyers the ability to look at the different responses to be able to review the switch features to determine whether or not it the switch has a particular functionality. OPF_LOCAL is used to manipulate in-band local OpenFlow controlWe anticipate that there will be switch models that will be a hybrid node on the network for both OpenFlow and non-OpenFlow traffic and then dedicated nodes on the network for just OpenFlow traffic. Additional details will be provided around specific use cases for this question.
  9. Q: Pertaining to item 3d of the RFP – “Should Support NORMAL action to forward packets” – If hybrid port mode is supported, is NORMAL action still required?
    A: There are many good use cases for NORMAL action. In a hybrid port mode, NORMAL action allows you to take traffic that shows up on the OpenFlow port and move that to processing by the non-OpenFlow part of the switch. You have the ability to inject rules to, i.e. block traffic without affecting how the other packets that aren’t being blocked are processed by the switch. NORMAL allows the switch to do OpenFlow processing on only a subset of the traffic. Another use case for NORMAL is for those networks running dual stack IPv4/IPv6 traffic. IPv6 traffic gets routed NORMAL and then OpenFlow picks up the IPv4 traffic.
  10. Q: What is the mechanism for adding relevant OpenFlow-enabled products that are introduced at a later time to the approved products list of the MSA?
    A: Initial terms of the MSA will be 12 months. Within that timeframe, if there are different technologies or new releases that would benefit our Authorized Buyers, these will be added to the MSA through an amendment process. We would expect our authorized vendors to keep The Quilt informed of such releases so we can appropriately time execution of any further amendments.
  11. Q: Will the contract automatically terminate at the end of 12-months?
    A: No. The contract will not automatically terminate at the end of 12-months. There will be information regarding the extension of the contract as well as language that addresses termination of the contract by either party with a certain timeframe for notice.
  12. Q: Upon award, what is the process to communicate to Authorized Buyers about the providers selected through the RFP process?
    A: The Quilt will create a webpage for each individual vendor and their products that will reside on the password protected portion of our website for members. The Quilt would also like to host a vendor webinar and invite in representatives from regionals and the institutions they serve to information participants on OpenFlow and the features of selected vendor switches. In general, The Quilt doesn’t support large scale marketing efforts to members but instead prefers informal, opt-in forums where information is exchanged among members and providers.
  13. Q: The marketplace is moving quickly in this space, how do we manage pricing refreshes to adjust to the market?
    A: We would expect this situation would be handled through an amendment process. The vendor and The Quilt would discuss these marketplace changes during a regularly scheduled call.
  14. Q: Are any of the products included in an RFP response going to be tested?
    A: Testing is one option that can be exercised if during its response review, the RFP review team deems it valuable to conduct a hands-on demonstration.
  15. Q: When will the results of the RFP be announced to Authorized Quilt Buyers?
    A: Once a vendor is notified of selection, the AQBs will also be notified of the results. Will there be a single awardee of the RFP?
    A: The RFP was intentionally written to address a broad spectrum of campus and regional network requirements for network switches that are OpenFlow enabled. There is a strong possibility that we will need to incorporate several vendor switches to fulfill all of the requirements.

Preparing and Submitting a Response

All interested providers must submit a non-binding Letter of Intent to respond to the RFP no later than Monday, May 21, 2012. RFP questions and responses will only be accepted from providers that have submitted a Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent should be sent electronically and addressed to Jen Leasure at jen@thequilt.netand include the following information:

  • A statement that your company is planning to submit a response to the RFP
  • The lead person’s name, title and contact information along with signature

Responses must contain all information that the Responder wishes to be taken into account in evaluating their submission. The information must be responsive to all requested criteria listed in this RFP. The text of the RFP response must be provided electronically in PDF format and delivered electronically (email) to:

Jen Leasure, President
The Quilt
2442 NW Market Street #68
Seattle, Washington 98107

No later than 11:59 PM eastern daylight time on Friday, June 22, 2012. Responses received after that will not be considered.