Campus moves ahead on adding more high-tech firepower

For a campus ambitious to explore the human brain or understand the region's ecosystem more deeply, this is good news: The drive to expand the cyber-infrastructure of UC Davis is gaining traction.

A signature research project should be named soon, a group of faculty advisers is coming together to help create a campus cyber-infrastructure roadmap, and the Data Center has added enough new air conditioning to meet the growing demand for servers--the machines throw off heat like a stove--and still withstand the usually withering Davis summer.

These gains are part of the effort to identify and obtain the computing power, cooling, data storage, network speed and support that the campus needs to enable advanced research in areas ranging from medicine and science to the humanities. Those needs are collectively called cyber-infrastructure, or CI. It is as crucial to high-end research as airports are to jets, and demand is soaring as research grows more complex.

The progress follows a two-day workshop in April, where leading faculty researchers and others talked about the state of campus CI and what to do next. The event was cosponsored by Vice Provost for Information and Educational Technology Pete Siegel and Vice Chancellor for Research Barry Klein.

Notes from the workshop have circulated among some faculty members for their comments, said Babette Schmitt, IET director for strategic planning and communications. "We're making progress," she said, "exploring the options, and taking steps to start addressing some of the needs."

Choosing a signature project will draw attention to what advanced CI can achieve here. Candidates include projects involving the Genome Center, atmospheric sciences, and several other disciplines.

The campus is also exploring the possibility of boosting the Genome Center's link to the huge, ultrafast Internet connection owned by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in Calif ornia (CENIC). "We're working with the Genome Center to determine interest in opening the first dedicated CENIC network link for the campus," Schmitt said. This would be a big step forward in helping researchers send and access amazingly complex sets of data. A dedicated link would let the center avoid the interruptions natural in a shared connection.

Faculty members Louise Kellogg, Mani Tripathi, Ken Joy, Bernd Hamann, S.J. Ben Yoo, Susan Ustin, Bertram Ludaescher and Dawei Lin have volunteered for the campus CI oversight team. The group will help address needs for more CI throughout campus.

"We're doing this in partnership with the campus, including deans and the research community. The CI agencies that participated in the workshop are eager to help us too," Schmitt said. "The work has just begun. You can expect to read about more progress in the months ahead."

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Read "How much do we need?" from the spring IT Times, and other archived stories on cyber-infrastructure, at TechNews. Find workshop presentations and follow-up materials here.