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Extreme Enables the Most Powerful and Advanced Network on Earth

Wilbur Smith Senior Systems Engineer Published 28 Oct 2019

We’re in the latter half of October and that means it’s time to prep for Supercomputing 2019. For SC19 Extreme will again be participating in SCinet, the multi-vendor network that powers the conference’s connectivity.

What make’s SCinet so special? Isn’t this just the same horrible conference WiFi everyone is used to? To answer that I’ll borrow SCinet’s own description:

“During the week of SC, SCinet becomes the most powerful and advanced network on Earth, connecting the SC community to the world. Every year, industry, academia, and government experts volunteer to design, build and administer the cutting-edge SCinet infrastructure. SCinet not only provides internet connectivity for conference attendees, it pushes the boundaries of networking technologies and innovations through workshops, demos, and collaborative opportunities.”

SCinet really does push “cutting edge” to its limits every year, both in the sheer amount of bandwidth it provides to the conference and in testing new network architectures. Although the finals number isn’t known yet, SCinet will have over 4 Terabits of WAN connectivity this year. 

Supporting these types of network experiments, while also making sure the WiFi keeps working, is a challenge. SCinet sees VxLAN as an efficient way to tunnel this type of unique L2 traffic user through the network, but there are always challenges with any new architecture. Compared to MPLS or BGP, VxLAN is a relatively young protocol. Building dynamic VxLAN tunnels across four different network vendors, each bringing their newest platforms every year, is a moving target.

That’s where SCinet provides real value to a networking company like Extreme. No single company could assemble the quantity and variety of network hardware SCinet pulls together each year, so it’s a great chance to get real-time feedback on interoperability.

This year SCinet will be using the Extreme’s SLX 9540 router to help provide connectivity to booths on the Expo floor. Our plan is to also leverage the SLX router’s onboard virtual machine to run embedded instances of perfSONAR (https://www.perfsonar.net/) to help graph network performance. This means the SLX routers will be part of SCinet’s larger perfSONAR network, run by the actual team behind the perfSONAR project.

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ExtremeRouter SLX 9540 to provide connectivity to booths on the Expo floor

Apart from our work with SCinet, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s High-End Network Group will be using Extreme’s new SLX 9640 router to test high-performance data transfers between the show floor in Denver and their datacenter in Greenbelt, MD. We’re eager to see how the SLX 9640’s deep packet buffers impact each server’s 100G transfer performance and compare it to similar tests we did with “shallow buffer” hardware in 2018.

This year’s keynote is with Steven Squyres, Principal Scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Project. He is best known as the face and voice of NASA’s mission to Mars. This year also NASA celebrates a half-century since Apollo astronauts landed on the moon, using onboard computers that were famously advanced for their time, and just as famously rudimentary compared to the devices most people carry in their pockets today. We look forward to his keynote on Tuesday Nov-19.

SC19 will also be a continuation of SCinet’s work to test and evaluate a multi-vendor VxLAN/EVPN architecture to solve the conferences unique challenges.  SCinet doesn’t just provide WiFi and hard-wired connections on the Expo floor, it also supports Network Research Exhibitions where universities and researchers test and demonstrate new scientific concepts enabled by high bandwidth connections. For example, here’s some of what SCinet supported in 2018: https://sc18.supercomputing.org/experience/scinet/network-research-exhibition/

Come visit us at the showroom floor at the Extreme Networks booth #975 and see our demos.

For more information on the event and how to register, visit our landing page!

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