CERN whitepaper outlines networking needs for science community

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, has challenged the IT, telecoms and data centre communities to work together to overcome data centre challenges that could hamstring scientific research in the future.

A whitepaper published by CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, identifies 16 IT challenges that it is looking to overcome, with data centre architecture a key concern.

CERN's own data centre in Switzerland runs about 10,000 dual-core CPU servers with 300,000 processor cores. This is connected to another site in Budapest through a 1000km, 100Gbps fibre link with around 25ms of latency.

In the whitepaper, CERNnotes: “Designing and operating distributed data infrastructures and computing centres poses challenges in areas such as networking, architecture, storage, databases, and cloud.

“A weakness in the architecture of many of today’s data centres is that they cannot easily accommodate rapid variations of cycles and workloads.”

CERN, one of the world’s most noted scientific institutions, said it has identified software defined networking (SDN) as one possible solution it could base future data centres and networks on.

The whitepaper also highlights key networking challenges the science community faces, challenges that the global carrier community could play a key role in helping to overcome.

“Wide-area networks are following a road map of increasing performance, with 400Gbps connections expected to become available for use in production networks in the next few years,” the whitepaper adds.

“Globalisation of science means that research centres are becoming community hubs for worldwide collaboration. Modern big science requires continuing developments to be made in nearly all aspect of networking. Rapid developments in networking speeds will enable data centres to become more interconnected.”

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