Monday, 27th January 2020

University of Birmingham accelerates access to research

  Brocade VDX Switches and VCS Fabrics chosen for university's research data network.

The University of Birmingham, one of the top 100 universities worldwide according to the QS World University Rankings, has implemented a research data network based on a number of BROCADE® VDX SWITCHES running BROCADE® VCS FABRICS to improve the speed of research data transfer across campus.
The University of Birmingham has a strong focus on research and innovation, with eight Nobel Prize winners amongst its alumni and former staff. Since its founding, the University has pioneered technologies including the use of microwaves, transplant surgery, the development of artificial Vitamin C, and is currently trialling cancer-fighting vaccines with partner Cancer Research UK.
As both the number of data-intensive instruments and the compute resource required by the University’s research teams has increased in recent years, streaming data across the University’s existing campus network was causing issues with the speed of access to information. The research computing team was challenged with enabling research data to move out of its secure facilities, across the campus network, and into the university’s central storage servers for research teams to access. With research so integral to the University, the team chose to deploy BROCADE VDX 6740 and 6740T FABRIC SWITCHES running VCS Fabrics to address this challenge and meet research data requirements.
“One of the things we didn’t want to do is have to push traffic via a firewall from data intensive instruments, but be able to route it by just switching it where we can. Brocade’s solution allowed us to do this and maintain speed across the network. The solution worked so well, we are hoping researchers will move away from a local staging server in the lab and just stream data directly to our central storage.” commented Simon Thompson, Research Computing Team, IT Services, University of Birmingham.
Thompson continued: “One feature we particularly like is the Inter Switch-Link (ISL) capability of the switches, combined with the VCS Fabric, it blows away the traditional tree structure of a network and enables the plug-and-play of switches across the fabric. If an ISL fails between two switches, and there is another path over the fabric, the switch will just kick over to using that instead. This ability to have traffic flow anywhere between switches massively helps reduce time spent on management and design.”
Brocade VDX switches leverage the cross-domain workflow capabilities of BROCADE WORKFLOW COMPOSER® to deliver the ultimate network automation experience enabling integration with other IT services tool chains, whilst VCS fabrics provide the highest levels of network automation, efficiency, resilience, and investment protection. The Top of Rack (ToR) VDX 6740 series switches, deployed by the University of Birmingham, support 1/10/40 GbE ports – providing the University with the efficiency and flexibility needed in a network to support cloud computing, virtualisation, mobility, and consolidation. With fabrics for Layer 2 and Layer 3 networks, the switches also deliver open standards support and extensive scalability, delivering time- and cost-savings.
Marcus Jewell, vice president EMEA at Brocade, commented on the deployment: “The University of Birmingham continues to be an educational and research institution at the forefront of pioneering technologies in the UK. Researchers are often working with some of the most complex data sets, and without the infrastructure to support this, making the latest discoveries can be a painful process. In deploying a suite of Brocade solutions, the University of Birmingham will have a non-stop software-enabled networking environment that is built to accommodate increased traffic and ultimately enable teams to have a more flexible approach to accessing their research.”
Yuangeng Zhang / Shutterstock.com
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