MU researchers can now move large data sets with new high-speed internet

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 8:40 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Researchers at MU are now able to move large data sets in a shorter amount of time using the high-speed Internet connection Internet2, said Gary Allen, University of Missouri System vice president for information technology, in an announcement Thursday morning.

The university has used Internet2 in the past, but it will now operate at a 100-gigabit speed instead of its previous 10-gigabit speed, said Prasad Calyam, an assistant professor in the MU computer science department.

Internet2's 100-gigabit speed is 10,000 times faster than regular at-home Internet and 100 times faster than Kansas City's Google Fiber network, said Gordon Springer, an associate professor in MU's computer science department.

Data sets that had previously taken weeks or days to send will now take minutes or seconds, Springer said.

"Essentially, one of the main reasons this is going to be of importance is it's going to give us the ability to move extremely large data sets to supercomputing facilities or other kinds of analytical tools that are located around the world," Allen said.

MU is also the first school to have a "network node," the equipment needed for a strong connection to the network, Calyam said. The presence of that equipment will also allow the information to move at a quicker speed for MU researchers, he said.

Previously, the Internet2 nodes closest to MU were in Kansas City and St. Louis. The new node at MU connects to those sites.

When researchers with access to Internet2 send large data sets to other institutions, the information is diverted through an Internet2 connection rather than a commercial internet connection or a university's private connection, Internet2 spokesman Todd Sedmak said.

Because the data sets can avoid the firewalls and other security measures of commercial internet connections, the data moves much faster, he said.

Calyam is one researcher whose work will benefit from the Internet2 improvements.

In collaboration with the nonprofit U.S. Ignite, Calyam is developing an elder-care application that allows seniors in Kansas City to interact with doctors and medical technology at MU. Information from the application travels through Google Fiber lines in the seniors' homes to Kansas City's Internet2 site, then to the site at MU.

Prasad said Internet2's 100-gigabit connection can be used not only for medical and educational purposes but also, eventually, by small businesses.

"An explosion of bandwidth, itself, is a driver of the economy," Calyam said. "And people will have a much better quality of life."

MU pays for Internet2 access with National Science Foundation grants and a $64,000-per-year membership fee, Allen said.

The announcement about the updates to MU's Internet2 access came during Cyberinfrastructure Day, an event in which faculty researchers, graduate students and research support staff collaborated and discussed technology of the future.

"In the next five years, infrastructures will look very different from today's," Calyam said at the event. "It will look more like what we are building."

Supervising editor is Margaux Henquinet.

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