UIS to Invest $10M in Data
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 02:10
To facilitate Georgetown’s increased focus on big data research, the National Science Foundation’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure-Network Infrastructure and Engineering Program has awarded University Information Services $379,018 to assist Georgetown in modernizing its network infrastructure.
Modernization of Georgetown’s network will cost approximately $10 million in total.
“It is a building block to modernizing the research enterprise,” Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis said. “Frankly, every little bit helps.”
The team that applied for the grant first submitted a proposal last year but was advised to revise and resubmit after a peer review process. With this foundation, work on the new proposal started in February and was submitted in April. UIS was notified of the award three weeks ago.
“One of our strategic goals has been modernizing our networks and enabling our teaching, learning and research mission. Everything that we do in modernization is interdependent,” Davis said.
The allotted amount is based on a submitted budget, which the team was asked to update in July. The NSF chose not to fund the entire request.
“When the NSF puts out these grants, they have a cap you can ask for. We asked for more than that,” said computer science professor Clay Shields, who worked with UIS to apply for the grant. “When you give them a budget, you have a whole bunch of itemized stuff.”
Shields did not have the requested amount available.
Principal Investigator Ardoth Hassler, associate vice president of UIS, led the proposal project, assisted by co-principal investigators Stephen Moore, director of research technologies at UIS, and Shields.
UIS submitted the testimonies of 49 faculty researchers, who described how the enhancement of the network infrastructure would aid their work. Many of the testimonials came from the physics, computer science and neuroscience departments, which often work on both the main campus and the medical campus.
“They are exchanging a lot of brain image data between campuses,” Hassler said. “The enhanced speed capability will allow them to transfer that data and allow them to do more analysis.”
The equipment grant allows for all campus facilities to have the same capabilities. As it currently stands, the Research Building, Building D, White-Gravenor Hall and the Pre-Clinical Science Building are not functioning at the same network capacities as other areas of campus. The upgrade will universally increase network speed from one to 10 gigabytes a second, which Shields equated to half a DVD’s worth of information.
“We’re going to upgrade the entrance to the neighborhood with new equipment. We will replace older switches with newer equipment for some areas of each building,” said Director of Network Services Scott Allen, who served as a subject matter expert on proposal and implementation.
The upgrade extends to the university’s data center in Laurel, Md., which houses computers and stores data, as well as to on-campus closets in each building, which hold data racks to provide the infrastructure for quick communication.
The impetus of the upgrade lies in the increasing importance of collaboration, including intradepartmental, cross-campus and off-campus. The university is part of a consortium of higher-education research institutions that utilize Internet2, a national research network modeled after the consortium of universities that originally developed the Internet. The upgrade will improve the possibilities of innovation and collaboration, specifically with the School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar.
The National Science Foundation was not available for comment because of the government shutdown.
Hoya Staff Writer Madison Ashley contributed reporting.