Brocade Selected as the Core for World’s Largest Single Site Deployment of 100 GbE in a Research Institute

Some high-performance research institutes generate millions of digitized images in the course of a year that require complex algorithms and robust computational horsepower to analyze. Their research demands that the computing environment be ultra-responsive and extremely efficient. Janelia Farm Research Campus, the research facility for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), has turned to Brocade to advance data analysis and transform its network infrastructure to be up to 10 times faster than before.

The high-performance and simplified network architecture has a direct correlation to the effectiveness Janelia Farm scientists gain when analyzing complex volumes of data from their neuroscience and imaging research. With 56-ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) in multiple Brocade MLXe routers powering the network core, the Janelia Farm Research Campus is now the world’s largest single site deployment of 100 GbE in a research institute, significantly increasing operational efficiency for more than 250 staff scientists.

HHMI, a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the largest philanthropies in the U.S., plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education. HHMI invests approximately US$770 million in biomedical research per year and has an endowment of $14 billion.

“We have 200 Gigabits connections to each of our network wiring closets,” said Spartaco Cicerchia, director of network infrastructure systems for the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, VA. “Then we have 10 GbE connections going directly down to researchers’ systems in order to support the massive volumes of data they have collected. This new infrastructure enables our research team to obtain results 10 times faster than before. This performance advantage will allow us to set a new standard for research process cycles.”

With more performance and advanced capabilities often comes complexity. Due to a limited networking staff, the Janelia Farm Research Campus sought to redesign its infrastructure to inherently remove obstacles and create a simplified infrastructure that operates with high reliability.

“We were able to reduce the number of routers in our network infrastructure and simultaneously enhance performance,” said Cicerchia. “Therefore we completely eliminated a layer of the network and improved our overall efficiency by about 50 percent.”

With performance, reliability and massive scalability as the critical factors for success, Janelia Farm Research Campus installed multiple Brocade MLXe-32 and MLXe-16 routers connected using Brocade Multi-Chassis Trunk (MCT) to simplify its data center network and increase resiliency. This advancement enables network-level virtualization and enhanced network reliability while greatly reducing management complexity. From the core, Janelia Farm Research Campus link aggregates or bonds two-ports of 100 GbE to create a single 200 gigabit logical connection allowing line rate bandwidth in both directions. The aggregation routers are two fully populated Brocade MLXe-32 routers with more than 2,400 GbE ports and a large subset of 10 GbE ports.

To ensure maximum performance and security on the research network, Janelia Farm Research Campus partitioned its IP communications and wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure using the Brocade FCX Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) stackable switches.

“For security, best practice design, and to make most efficient use of our bandwidth, we do aggregate the telephones and the wireless access point on a different set of Brocade switches. This has really proven to provide added flexibility and simplicity for us,” said Cicerchia

When evaluating networking vendors, Janelia Farm Research Campus looked at a variety of metrics from price/performance and reliability to the network equipments’ degree of scalability.

“When we decided to undertake this new infrastructure, we looked at several networking providers,” said Cicerchia. “We always try to select best-of-breed when we evaluate vendors. It was our goal to deploy multiple 100 GbE connections to the wiring closet so that we could face upcoming network performance challenges.”

“Major medical and scientific advancements not only better our lives but can have a direct impact on future generations,” said Ken Cheng, vice president, Service Provider Products for Brocade. “The work at Janelia Farm Research Campus is a critical element for medical progress. With the addition of the Brocade MLXe routers and 100 GbE connections, Janelia Farm Research Campus has taken a quantum leap in how networking can help transform science and Brocade is pleased to be a part of it.”