Larry Smarr on Solving the Big Data Challenge in HPC

By Alison Diana

September 25, 2015

Internet pioneer Larry Smarr once had a vision of bringing connected computers out of academia and into the consumer world. Today, he envisions a second virtual highway, one capable of delivering on the promise of big data by leveraging fiber optic networks to transmit data at speeds of 10 gigabits to 100 gigabits per second. The idea is similar to NSFnet, which became the backbone of the Internet in the 1980s. Like NSFnet, Smarr hopes this new network – the Pacific Research Platform – will be a template others will adopt.

Smarr, who is founding director of the director in 2000 of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a University of California San Diego/UC Irvine partnership, sat down recently with EnterpriseTech to discuss Pacific Research Platform. Following is the interview:

EnterpriseTech: Please could you provide us with an update of where the Pacific Research Platform stands today, about a month since the New York Times article appeared?

Larry Smarr: The National Science Foundation officially awarded the grant a few days before the New York Times article and it has a start date of October 1st, 2015. It is a five-year grant, providing $1 million a year, which will be used to coordinate the development of the Pacific Research Platform. By NSF rules you can’t spend the money directly for scientific research; that has to be supported under other peer-supported grants. This is largely a socio-technological grant, in that you’ve got to coordinate 20 university campuses, and their chief information officers, and the different ways they’ve all implemented big data campus-scale networks. But then you’ve also got to work with a dozen or so major scientific research teams, each of which is cross-institutional, which is why they were selected. They’re already working together across campuses or across labs, but they’re doing so on the commodity shared Internet. And so the real question here is, if we can move them up to a dedicated optical network – roughly about 1,000 times faster than the shared Internet – how will that change the way that they do data-driven science?

Here a link to the full interview appearing in HPCwire’s sister publication, EnterpriseTech: http://www.enterprisetech.com/2015/09/25/larry-smarr-internet-pioneer-takes-on-big-data/

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