An Earth Day Story About NOAA, Cisco, and Building a Cloud Network to Better Understand Clouds
Few scientists know more about the condition of planet Earth than those who work within the American National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) There, it’s all about the science of climate – from the surface of the sun, to the bottom of the oceans, and to the clouds in the sky.
For NOAA, every day is Earth Day.
This Sunday, on the official Earth Day, NOAA will host educational events all over the nation. Meanwhile, back in the labs, its scientists and researchers continue to work out what it takes to predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts.
Why is Cisco talking about a government agency such as NOAA, and its Earth Day intentions? Because there’s a network angle in here, of course. At Cisco we know a lot about clouds, as in Cloud Networks. Cloud networking is more than just storage and compute – you’ve got to have a network in there as well.
One of the newer resources NOAA scientists are tapping into these days is a high performance computing network it calls “n-wave.” Its purpose is to efficiently and cost-effectively link data sources – meaning internal NOAA scientists and researchers, as well as external partners – with data and computing resources.
How much bandwidth do NOAA scientists need? Try 80 to 100 Terabytes, per day – a volume that filled its existing 10 Gbps network, all day long, no downtime, explains Jerry Janssen, Manager of NOAA’s n-wave network, in this video about the agency’s vision for a 100-Gig-capable network.
One initial challenge was getting the scientists to accept the reality that in order to get more computing resources, they would no longer need to be physically available on site.
However, by building a highly reliable (note the part about “100% uptime”), ultra-high-speed network anchored by the Cisco Carrier Routing System (CRS-3) to interconnect its people, NOAA “took the network out of the equation,” from a bandwidth perspective, as Janssen explains.
In closing, indulge me one observation, and one wish: Making videos about things that are largely invisible – bandwidth, capacity, compute power – can get a little dry. NOAA has shown in full color what the power of the network can do. As for the wish, it goes like this: That by enabling NOAA’s scientists to work better, we’ve contributed that much more to the ability to know and treat our planet better.
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