Fossil Research Requires Modern Networks

An article by our ITS colleague Julie Eble describes the immediate benefit that Professor Tim Ryan received by putting his new X-ray CT (X-ray computed tomography) device on the Penn State Research Network:

Quantitative X-ray imaging facility is moving big bytes across the network

The article points out several things that are worth mentioning. First, it describes a general trend that as instruments get more sensitive or produce higher resolution images, they generate larger data sets. Those data sets become harder to analyze on a laptop or standalone desktop and moving them to more robust computational platforms (like the ICS-ACI High Performance Computing Clusters) becomes increasingly necessary. The ability to create, collect, and process data is outpacing the ability of traditional academic networks to move it in real-time or near real-time.

Another implication is that by using the Research Network to transfer the data set(s) to ICS-ACI storage, the data can be analyzed as a whole rather than in parts (which are discarded) as Professor Ryan points out. Data stored on ACI storage can be processed, filtered, and analyzed on ACI computational clusters with the results visualized on the researcher’s workstation/laptop. This for some is a new way to work, but as the article states, greatly speeds up the data analysis process.

Finally, implicit in Mr. Canich’s comments is that this research data is no longer using the College of Earth and Mineral Science’s academic network, increasing the time for that network routing, firewall, and switch equipment to remain viable. In financial terms, lengthening the life-cycle of the equipment, decreases the amount of money spent over time to keep that equipment viable and the network secure. Just don’t tell the Dean…


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