Using advanced technology, the Research Computing Team has designed and built a specialised and dedicated network (Research Data Network or RDN) to connect research facilities that generate very high volumes of data, allowing efficient access to BEAR storage and processing services.
By their nature, the large data generators are not suitable to connect to the Campus Network for instance, because the volume of data generated would interfere with general data flows or because the data is being generated at faster rates than the network can transfer it. Early examples of equipment in this category are gene sequencers (with Hi Seqs operating 24 * 7, generating several TBs per run)
The RDN is not a general purpose network for researchers and has no user devices attached; only equipment and BEAR infrastructure. This enables the service, including its security features to be very closely controlled and tailored to the specific need of these exceptional items. The network is separate from the main campus network and therefore in each case, networking devices will normally need to be purchased and the network will need to be extended to reach the lab where the kit is located. There may be limitations both in terms of physical location of devices and the topology of the supporting network infrastructure that mean some locations are expensive to connect and some may even be impractical. Research groups are encouraged to consider these limitations and costs when planning the accommodation for new equipment.
Research Groups who are planning projects involving such kit should contact the Research Computing team initially by logging a call with the Service Desk at www.itservicedesk.bham.ac.uk, outlining the anticipated requirement. Useful information for the initial discussion would be:
- The nature of the Research Project
- The Equipment requiring connection
- Its proposed location (building, floor, room number)
- Daily or weekly data volumes (per piece of equipment or aggregate)
- Data flows (where is the data to be transferred to, what is the pattern of generation)
- Where the data be processed
- Where the data be stored
Central funding for this service is limited and negotiated on an annual basis. It will support the core of this new network and its provision in strategic buildings by installing equipment to establish a point of presence or POP and connecting it resiliently back to the BEAR infrastructure in the data centres. However, it is not funded for extension to every building or lab on campus. Contributions from research groups will be required to make the final connection from the local POP to individual pieces of equipment. Typically, these costs should be included in research grant bids.
As of August 2016, there are RDN POPs in:
1. Biosciences Tower (3rd and 4th Floor spaces as well as Quad)
2. the Institute for Translational Medicine (5th Floor Labs)
3. Physics West
4. the Institute for Biomedical Research (Link Labs)
Other POPs being investigated are to provide service in Sportex and Haworth