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Smithsonian Upgrades Network with Cisco Optical Solution and Switches

Good news.

The Smithsonian Institution and Cisco are collaborating to help the Smithsonian enhance the experience for more than 30 million visitors, who each year enjoy the services offered by the world’s largest museum and research organization. As an avid user of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world, I support and welcome this great opportunity

The Smithsonian chose to optimize its network operations by deploying its first advanced optical network using the Cisco® ONS 15454 Multiservice Transport Platform (MSTP) and Cisco Nexus family of switches. Our optical solution and switches will also help enable the Smithsonian to increase revenues by more effectively managing its network.

Increased congestion and latency occurred after the Smithsonian moved their data center from the National Mall in the District of Columbia to Herndon, Va., a distance of approximately 40 miles. The Cisco ONS 15454 platform and Cisco Nexus Series Switches solve the problem of distance and offer almost limitless capacity for the Smithsonian.

Martin Beckman, director of IT operations for the Smithsonian, told me, “We upgraded our network for almost the same recurring cost of our previously limited connections. The Smithsonian now has a simple and affordable path to 100 Gigabits per second on our network. We will also be expanding our new optical services to the National Zoo, our warehouses in Maryland and at our Internet exchange at Equinix in Ashburn, Virginia.”

Beckman continued, “The Cisco optical solution and Nexus switches also helped us extend our network over from Herndon, Virginia to the main museum sites downtown, allowing for an evolution to a true private-cloud service for the entire Smithsonian Institution.”

Beckman also said increased bandwidth to support live video is another reason why they chose Cisco. “The ability to share live video, for example of the birth of our Panda bears and monitor the health of other animals in our zoos is important. We can also stream the video to schools and they, in turn, use it to enhance their learning experiences for teachers and students.”

Cisco optical networking products and services are key components of an evolved programmable network (EPN), an architecture that enables public sector agencies to migrate and deliver services to Internet Protocol-based networks. By adopting EPN, the Smithsonian can also deliver innovative services to their end users more quickly.

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2 Comments.


  1. As an update, despite the government shutdown (and the stopping of the Panda Cam service, the backbone has been as bullet-proof as I expected it would be; and that is due in no small part to the help from Cisco directly and the leading Value Added Reseller, WWT.
    Leasing fiber has proven to be extremely affordable and the ONS switches have allowed us dual 40Gbps throughput paths from downtown DC to out near the Dulles Airport, reduced the latency from 20+ milliseconds to less than 20 microseconds. That is a 1000-fold reduction in latency. That means we can get it “good, fast, and cheap (less cost), and not be restricted to picking only two of the three. We will be continuing our buildout and hope to have a 400Gbps backbone by this time next year.

    Martin Beckman
    Senior Executive for Engineering and Plans

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  2. Patrick Finn

    Martin Beckman was clear from the beginning on what he wanted to accomplish to ensure a vision and a strategy was executed to serve the people and the children of the US and the world. This is an example of how technology is highlighting the best the US Government has to offer the world at the Smithsonian Institute. We are honored for Cisco to play a small role in helping Beckman deliver his vision. Surya Panditi’s optical team has always defined the meaning of partnership both internal and external with Partners and Customers. Congratulations and thank you for your service and your commitment to education. Be well.

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