UCI Lightpath: a High-Speed Network for Research

lightpathOIT has built a dedicated high-performance network infrastructure that can help meet the needs of researchers requiring the transfer of a large quantity of data within and beyond campus. This network is called UCI Lightpath which is funded by a Grant from National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Network Infrastructure Engineering Program (NSF CC-NIE)

UCI Lightpath is composed of a Science DMZ with a 10 Gbps connection to the science and research community on the Internet, and a dedicated 10 Gbps network infrastructure on campus.  A science DMZ is a portion of the network that is designed so that the equipment, configuration, and security policies are optimized for high-performance scientific applications rather than for general-purpose business systems or “enterprise” computing.

The initial infrastructure covers eight campus locations including the OIT Data Center where computing clusters, such as HPC and Greenplanet reside.  The UCI Lightpath network infrastructure is separate from the existing campus network (UCINet.)  The diagram shows the current status of the UCI Lightpath.

For more information of UCI Lightpath and its access policy, please refer to OIT website http://www.oit.uci.edu/network/lightpath/

 

UCI’s Internet Connections Upgraded

connectivityOIT recently improved UCI’s connection to the Internet, increasing bandwidth from 6 Gbps (billion bits per second) to 20 Gbps. This upgrade enhances connections from the main campus, UCI Medical Center, and the residential network. The upgrade provides faster network access both to the research Internet and the general commodity Internet.

UCI connects to the Internet via CENIC, a regional network service provider providing Internet connections to California research and education organizations. CENIC provides two connections for the campus: CalREN-HPR and CalREN. CalREN-HPR supplies researchers with high-speed connectivity to other research networks, such as Internet2 and the Energy Science Network (ESnet). CalREN provides general Internet commodity services.

Last July, when OIT began work on the UCI Lightpath project, our CalREN-HPR network connection was upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps with a 1Gbps diversified backup link. (Lightpath is a dedicated science network funded by the National Science Foundation). This February, our CalREN general Internet connection was upgraded from five 1Gbps connections to a 10Gbps connection.

OIT is also working with CENIC to establish additional fiber infrastructure between UCI and UCLA which will enable us to upgrade our diversified backup paths from 1Gbps to higher bandwidth. Our goal is to upgrade both backup links of CalREN-HPR and CalREN to 10Gbps in the near future.

Visitor Access to UCInet Mobile Access

UCInet Mobile Access is UCI’s wireless (WiFi) network, accessible from almost anywhere on campus.  Normally, access to this network is restricted to devices previously registered by their campus (faculty, staff, student) owners.

However, the wireless network includes a system for limited, short-term access by visitors.  Called “Visitor Express Registration,” visitors may connect to the network, agree to certain terms of use, then be connected to UCInet for a 24-hour period up to seven times in a month.  Visitor use of UCInet is restricted to Web, email (IMAP and SMTP), and secure shell (SSH).

If visitors need longer access than Visitor Registration provides, a UCI faculty, staff, or graduate student may register the visitor’s device for up to 4 weeks using manual registration.  The visitor only needs to supply the MAC address.

UCI also supports the Eduroam standard, allowing visitors whose home institution also supports Eduroam to use that network ID to connect to UCInet Mobile Access.

Visitor Access to UCInet

UCInet Mobile Access

1-Day Access

Visitors to the campus who need temporary access to the internet with a laptop or mobile device may make use of Express Registration for the UCInet Mobile Access network.  In order to do this, the visitor should go to a wireless access location, open a web browser, and connect to any web page.  (See list of wireless locations). This will direct the visitor to our registration process.  Access is granted for 24 hours, and this access will only be granted seven times in a 30-day period. Visitor access is restricted to Web, email, and secure shell (SSH).

4-Week Access

There is a second option for visitors who need access to UCInet beyond the restrictions of Express Registration.  Manual Registration is a process by which UCI faculty, staff, or graduate students can authorize access for a visitor.  The authorizer will need to use his or her own UCINetID and password, and will need the MAC address (the unique address of the network card) of the visitor’s laptop or other mobile device.  More information on these two options can be found at the UCInet Mobile Access Registration page.

Longer-Term Access

Another option is available for guests whose visit to UCI will be longer than a month.  (Examples include visiting scholars, volunteer faculty/staff, or those who may be employees of a different UC campus but are teaching here.)  In these cases a faculty or management-level staff member may request a Sponsored UCInetID for the visitor.  This is essentially a normal UCInetID, but it is only valid for as long as the sponsor authorizes it — typically one to four quarters.  Note that the Sponsored UCInetID request form is now online and requires the sponsor to log in with his or her own UCInetID and password.

Eduroam

Visitors from participating educational institutions may choose to gain access to UCInet using their home-campus network identities via the Eduroam secure federated network access service.  For eligible visitors, this option may be a better choice given the requirements and restrictions of the alternatives listed above.

ZotPortal: Online Resources for Students

ZotPortal

After an extensive campus-wide planning process, the student portal “ZotPortal” went live on April 27 of this year.  IAT-NACS worked with Student Affairs to design the high-reliability and high-performance system hardware, and provides ongoing network and system administration services, as well as housing elements of ZotPortal in separate data centers.

Through ZotPortal students can access academic and administrative information, connect to a Facebook account, subscribe to UCI campus news, student media and entertainment feeds, check UCI libraries catalogue and even search for people and campus web sites from one search box.

Students can arrange ZotPortal’s look and layout flexibly through a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, subscribing to the particular information channels they want.

ZotPortal runs on hardware intended to provide maximal service continuity.  There are duplicate servers, connected through IAT’s DMRnet.  In the event one server becomes unavailable (say due to a power failure), the twin automatically assumes all portal activity.  Within each physical server are many CPUs, configured to provide a flexible group of virtual servers so that ZotPortal can support very large numbers of simultaneous requests.  Data is stored on a disk cluster configured with Sun’s ZFS (zettabyte file system) which provides both redundancy (data protection) and high performance parallel access.