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The Collegiate Spirit Among Contributors and Volunteers Alike Supports the Colossal High-Speed Networking Achievements of SCinet

30 years of scinet

Kevin Hayden, SC20 SCinet Chair

Senior Network Engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory

What does it take to deliver a high-speed network for the SC Conference? A year of planning and tremendous support from a community of contributors.

The SC Conference’s dedicated high-speed network, SCinet, celebrates its 30th year at SC20. If you have attended SC within that time, you likely have encountered SCinet in one of three ways: by connecting to Wi-Fi as you’ve moved across the convention center; by selecting an internet connection type for your exhibit booth; or by participating in cutting-edge demonstrations in the SC exhibits hall that often connected you to your colleagues around the country and across the globe.

Thirty years ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, SCinet became a critical component of the SC Conference infrastructure. The first version of the network supported 10 Mbps local-area connections and 245 Mbps wide-area capacity. That year, SCinet demonstrated one of the first uses of wide-area networks to support a high-speed, TCP/IP-based distributed application, which provided real-time remote data visualization of a high-resolution MRI scan of a human brain.

Of course this pales in comparison to last year’s SCinet with speeds of up to 400 Gbps and 4.22 Tbps of wide-area capacity in Denver, Colorado, but in 1991, volunteers installed 1.86 miles of fiber in the SC exhibits hall to deliver speeds that were considered industry standards. Yet as networking speeds evolved, and the capacity to transfer data increased, one fact remains true today as it was 30 years ago: this volunteer-built network would not be possible without tremendous support from a community of contributors.

SCinet contributors have donated and loaned millions of dollars in equipment, software, and services that are needed to build and support SCinet each year. From networking equipment coming to us directly from the prototype lab, to the latest network monitoring software available on the market, to the greatest technical minds that build and operate the network, our SCinet contributors are the secret sauce to our success.

In my 15 years as a SCinet volunteer, I’ve watched this incredible community of contributors across academia, government, and industry helping us meet the growing technical demands of high-performance networking, and supporting our efforts to provide the SC Conference community with the best experience possible.

This collegiate spirit among contributors is one of the many reasons why our volunteers choose to participate in SCinet each year. We’ve become a community of networking experts that looks forward to the opportunity to be part of SCinet’s test bed for innovation, all while supporting HPC researchers and conference attendees.

Just last year—and thanks to incredible support from Ciena, Internet2, Juniper Networks, and Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink)—SCinet successfully passed production traffic over a 1,367 mile circuit using a single 400 gigabit Ethernet link between Chicago and Denver, the first such occurrence for an advanced research and education network! SCinet has surely come a long way since its early days in Albuquerque.

As Helen Keller so insightfully pointed out, “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” For SCinet, our contributors enable us to “do so much.” And while we won’t be building SCinet this year as the SC Conference goes virtual, I want to recognize the following organizations for their ongoing support: Ciena, Cisco, Juniper Networks, Internet2, Lumen Technologies, Arista, Chameleon, Corelight, ESnet, Palo Alto Networks, Splunk, OSI Global IT, Arista (formerly Big Switch Networks), CALIENT Technologies, Corsa Security, Dell EMC, Extreme Networks, Infinera, Nokia, Red Seal, Spirent Federal Systems, VIAVI, Zayo, EXFO, Front Range GigaPop, InMon, Keysight (formerly IXIA), Lonestar Education and Research Network, Microchip, Noviflow, PIER Group, and Puppet. I look forward to our continued partnership in the future.

I will personally miss the opportunity to work alongside our volunteers and contributors this year. I am grateful for this dedicated community that has been the driving force behind SCinet for 30 strong years, and I look forward to an exciting conference next month, where featured virtual SCinet content will be available for you to learn about this important effort. In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about SCinet milestones over the past 30 years.

With Much Gratitude

SCinet Contributors & Volunteer Organizations

Kevin Hayden, SC20 SCinet Chair

Senior Network Engineer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory

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