Cardiff University selects Foundry Networks to enhance e-Science centre applications

San Jose 03 September 2003Cardiff University, one of the United Kingdom's top ten universities, in partnership with the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM), has chosen Foundry Networks Inc. to supply intelligent switching and routing systems for its new combined network, one of the largest and most advanced IT infrastructure projects in the United Kingdom today. The first phase of the five-year project began last month, as Cardiff implemented Foundry's 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) switching technology. Later this year, Cardiff expects to be one of the first UK organisations to deploy Foundry's new 40-Gigabit-ready BigIron MG8 switching and routing system.


Pervasive Networks, a network integrator, also was chosen to provide a range of technical services and support for the project. Tom Wiersma, Cardiff University's network team-leader commented: "Foundry was the simple and logical choice because its technology completely outstrips the competition. We now have 10-Gigabit capability and plan to upgrade to Foundry's 40-Gigabit BigIron MG8 platform as we need more capacity. The majority of our return on investment is going to come from improved network performance and a highly reliable and redundant network design."

The new network will provide more than 25.000 students and researchers from Cardiff University and the UWCM, institutions in the process of merging, with voice, video and data networking benefits. These include high-speed access to SuperJANET, the Joint Academic Network, the United Kingdom's government-funded network for education and research, a broad range of joint University resources, and national and international cross-collaboration research data.

The upgrade also will provide the combined University with a high performance network to efficiently run administrative applications such as student registration and new infrastructure for carrying voice, data and video network traffic for residence halls.

The Welsh e-Science Centre, hosted by the University, will also benefit as it develops and runs data-intensive services such as virtual reality visualization for medical applications and bio-terrorist simulations. Such applications can generate gigabytes of information per second and need an extremely powerful and reliable network to handle such massive amounts of data.

Cardiff University, established by Royal Charter in 1883, is rated one of the top ten research and teaching organisations in the United Kingdom. The Foundry network will provide connections for up to 20.000 users at the University's main campus and for 5000 users at the UWCM campus two miles away.

The Foundry/Pervasive tender was chosen out of 65 separate proposals because it offered flexibility, high-performance network bandwidth, lowest cost per port per user and a clear upgrade path. The first phase of the implementation began with installation of eight Foundry BigIron 15000 Layer 3 backbone switches and 35 FastIron Layer 2/3 enterprise switches.

Mr. Wiersma predicts that the new network, when fully implemented in 2004, will provide 99,999 percent availability, compared to 96 percent from the previous legacy network. Foundry's Jetcore-based products provide sFlow, a statistical sampling technology for network traffic and performance monitoring. sFlow will be used to track network traffic, allowing the University to distribute costs of its system upgrade to departments and other network users based precisely on their actual consumption of network resources.

The University also expects to install a wireless network extension to the new Foundry system during the next two academic years, with the first phase being a 110 WAP installation by Pervasive at the University Hospital of Wales campus of UWCM.

Jamie Pitchforth, strategic account director for Pervasive, commented: "Businesses, be they private or public sector, only spend money if they know there is going to be a return on that investment. The solution we put together for Cardiff is very strong in this respect, especially the real-time traffic monitoring capability we're delivering through sFlow."

Bobby Johnson, Foundry Networks' president and CEO, stated: "We are delighted to be the network infrastructure vendor of choice for one of the United Kingdom's leading academic establishments. We expect Cardiff to be one of the first European customers to use our new Terathon 40-Gigabit platform. Cardiff chose Foundry because we were able to go a step further than our competitors, and provide a clear upgrade path that caters to their needs today and well into the future."

Cardiff University is home to one of the United Kingdom's eight Government-funded regional e-Science centres, the Welsh e-Science Centre. The centres are charged with ensuring that United Kingdom research projects have access to the right ICT infrastructures to remain at the cutting edge of global science.

Current scientific methodologies focus on groups of scientists working together across the world to maximize potential output. At Cardiff University, this involves sharing vast amounts of data with other e-Science centres, with other Universities and with industrial partners. This requires high levels of bandwidth. The Welsh e-Science Centre offers three specialist resources for researchers, including Grid computing facilities to share resources; "AccessGrid", an international multi-party multimedia conferencing service which is using the new network; and, most importantly, visualization resources.

Alex Hardisty, manager of the Welsh e-Science Centre, stated: "It's clear that the new network is going to allow us to do a lot more of what we're doing and much faster. Some scientific instruments in use today generate terabytes of data per second. Once processed, this is equivalent to more than one million CD-ROMs of data a year. Viewing and analysing the results requires new techniques, such as immersive visualization. Using visualization, the data is formatted and presented as 3D videographics that scientists can interact with."

The Foundry network will be used to support visualization resources in a range of collaborative engineering, geology, medical and biological projects. It will also support research into collaborative techniques that will, for example, bring agencies together in response to specific bio-terrorism events to form a "virtual organisation" tasked with responding to the incident. At its most data intensive, the network will be involved in virtual reality techniques to create a totally graphic environment for researchers to work in.

Mr. Hardisty concluded: "We are going to be expanding many of the applications at the moment in terms of both usage and complexity. The new network is the only way we are going to be able run these cohesively. AccessGrid video feeds, for example, are only limited by the bandwidth and processing power available. When we have a 40-Gig-capable network in place, the quality of collaborative video visualization in Cardiff University will be world class."

Foundry Networks Inc. is a provider of high-performance enterprise and service provider switching, routing and Web traffic management solutions including Layer 2/3 LAN switches, Layer 3 Backbone switches, Layer 4 - 7 Web switches and Metro Routers. Foundry's 6000 customers include the world's premier ISPs, Metro service providers, and enterprises including e-commerce sites, universities, entertainment, health and wellness, government, financial, and manufacturing companies.

Leslie Versweyveld

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