Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center delivers high-speed access to regional universities

PSC brings high-speed access to regional universities

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has announced that it will provide a secure and private network to eight regional university members of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) with the help of Comcast Business.

PSC, a non-profit collaborative effort between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, supplies a large-scale, data-intensive supercomputing infrastructure to  clients in government, industry and academia.

Comcast will provide 10 gigabit/sec (Gbps) Ethernet Virtual Private Line to PSC, which will be allocated into 1 Gbps links regional schools.  Comcast’s service will also augment and connect these universities to the Three Rivers Optical Exchange (3ROX), a high-speed network hub managed by PSC.  3ROX operates and manages network infrastructure that connects many universities and schools in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to research and education networks.

"The institutions we work with rely on us for three very important things: access to our state-of-the-art offsite data storage facility; use of our supercomputers for advanced mathematical computations, scientific modeling and large-scale data analysis; and high-speed, high-quality connectivity to the Internet," said Ken Goodwin, director of advanced networking at PSC. "Comcast is giving us a way to provide these schools with the same caliber of connectivity that you would expect of a major research institution at a price that can fit within a smaller institution's budget."

Instead of routing all the institutional traffic through the schools' commodity Internet connections, the new service will allow it to be moved to local links, connecting directly to certain common services without consuming the AICUP members’ commodity bandwidth, Goodwin said. This will allow members to move more data without incurring the equivalent of overage charges or price premiums charged by other service providers.

Additionally, the AICUP members will be able to inexpensively archive large amounts of data in PSC’s Data Supercell, a petabyte-scale system that allows users to store data with the security of an archival system and speed of data retrieval of a local hard disk.

“This new relationship with 3ROX opens a world of opportunities that are not readily available to an institution as small as ours,” said Terri Ballard, La Roche College's director of information technology . “In addition to the economic and administrative benefits of becoming members of 3ROX, we are already thinking of how our academic programs could benefit in the future.”

The institutions in the AICUP regional group are Carlow University, Geneva College, Juniata College, La Roche College, Point Park University, Saint Francis University, Washington & Jefferson College and Westminster College.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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