The Ultimate Network

SC15ColorSoftShadowEarlier this year I learned that one of my favorite technology industry conference would be held in Austin, TX again.  I immediately contacted my company’s events team to request to be a part of it since I live just north of Austin.  Turns out Gigamon had already signed up to be a Gold Contributor to SCinet.

What I really like about the SC conference is that it is more than just a lot of experts giving talks, more than just vendors trying to sell products on the show floor, it is more of a collaboration among peers who are seeking to push the limits of computing.

SCinet

A great example of how different this conference is can be found by looking at the SCinet project.  Each year a one of a kind network is created for the conference, by volunteers.  Planning begins over a year in advance and requires around 150 volunteers to bring it to fruition.  While planning takes place for over a year, thenetwork actual implementation spans about 3 weeks.  The first week is staging, during this week the equipment is inventoried, unboxed, racked, cabled and powered on.  The goal is to get the network up and functioning at a basic level.  Then everyone goes home for a week.  The week prior to the conference everyone comes back and continues the work of configuring the equipment and software they are assigned.  As the beginning of the conference draws near, the days get longer and the work more intense.

The goal of SCinet is to support the SC conference; and showcase the best products, technology and research in high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis.  The best engineers from universities, industry and government research labs partner with vendors creating a unique environment that tests the boundaries of technology and engineering.  SCinet provides wireless connectivity to the conference attendees and high-speed links to exhibitor booths on the show floor.  Internet connectivity is provided by multiple high-speed networks like LEARN, ESnet, Internet2, and CenturyLink—aggregating more bandwidth than any other conference.  SCinet offers an opportunity for vendors to demonstrate their products in a computing environment where everyone is trying to demonstrate just how high performance their products are.  Vendors from all parts of the computing industry donate or loan their products towards building this one of a kind network.

IMG_5634Why Am I Here?

I am here because Gigamon is one of those vendors that is providing its products to SCinet.  As part of Gigamon’s involvement, they needed a technical resource to help get our product installed and configured to work with the rest of the network.  I happily volunteered.  I thought I would just be working with our products, but in reality I am an official member of SCinet security team, whose responsibility is to ensure that SCinet is not used for nefarious purposes.  Think of SCinet as a university-like network, there are very few limits on what can be done within SCinet.  Since this is a network designed to show off high performance computing, security could be viewed as a potential roadblock to that goal.  In the security plan for SCinet, great care was taken to ensure that the security monitoring was as unobtrusive as possible.  Gigamon is providing TAPs for the network, four 100 Gig and thirty-six 10 Gig TAPs, and two of our GigaVUE chassis (GigaVUE-HC2 and GigaVUE-HD8) that are clustered together.  Once we aggregate all these TAPs together, we will then deduplicate the data and send it to security devices from Reservoir Labs running Bro and to a Firewall sandwich featuring Dell’s SonicWALL Firewall.  In addition to providing wire data to these two products, I will also be generating 1 to 1 NetFlow data and sending it to Gigamon’s Fabric Manager running FabricVUE Traffic Analyzer as well as InMon and SplunkIMG_5624

So in addition to working with some pretty cool Gigamon products, I also have the opportunity to work with some outstanding individuals from academia, commercial, and government research labs utilizing some of the best in class security and performance tools.  What more could a systems engineer ask for?

SC, sponsored by IEEE Computer Society and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) offers a complete technical education program and exhibition to showcase the many ways high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis lead to advances in scientific discovery, research, education and commerce. This premier international conference includes a globally attended technical program, workshops, tutorials, a world class exhibit area, demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on learning. For more information on SC15, please visit: http://sc15.supercomputing.org/