A significant part of the technology showcased at each year’s SC conference is the SCinet network that supports the conference and makes it (for the duration of the show) one of the most intense networks on the planet.
This year, Scinet 2000 is working with Qwest Communications International, Cisco, Nortel Networks, Juniper, Marconi, Foundry, Extreme, Spirent and others to establish flexible, wide area connections to the show floor. Using Qwest’s fiber infrastructure in the Dallas area and Qwest SONET, ATM and IP backbones nationwide, the wide area network will feature multiple OC-48 (2.5 gigabits per second) connections, several OC-12 connections and possibly other connections, using the very latest technology and protocols. The total connectivity between SC 2000 and the outside world will be 10.5 to 11 gigabits per second-a new record for the SC conferences! In addition to commodity Internet access, WAN connection links to SCinet 2000 will include:
SCinet plans to deploy and support IPv4, IPv6, ATM, and Packet over SONET connections, Myrinet, Quality of Service demonstrations, and advanced network monitoring. Other types of connections might be possible based on discussions with requestors.
SCinet will install and operate more than 40 miles of fiber optics throughout the conference areas, including the types of connections listed below. SCinet 2000 is planning to support an all-ST-terminated, all-fiber show floor network to interconnect booths using switched technologies.
In order to support the complex logistics and requirements of an exhibition on the scale of SC2000, SCinet is deploying four overlapping networks within the Dallas Convention Center. A diagram of the network is below.
They are all interconnected, but can operate independently of each other. At the lowest level, several days before the show starts, SCinet deploys a commodity Internet network to connect show offices, the conference Education Program, and the show’s e-mail facilities. At the next level, there is a production network, provisioned with leading-edge hardware from various vendors. This year, this network will feature Gigabit Ethernet and OC-48 ATM.
The Network Operations Center is also developed from scratch just before the show starts. This year, in addition to the traditional functions of supporting the network equipment, providing a help desk, and work areas for the network engineers, the NOC will also house a variety of displays and information. Spirent is providing their “SmartBits” technology to monitor aspects of SCinet. The SCinet “bit-o-meter” will display aggregate network traffic. Specific applications and events will be monitored throughout the show. Scinet will also use the “Bro” package from LBNL to monitor network traffic for intrusion. Further displays such as from the Netflow package will also be viewable.
One of the most impressive things about SCinet is that every year, it brings together the best network professionals from across the country to help create the entire network and support the multiple aspects of the program. This year, staff from many organizations are supporting SCinet, including:
Aaronsen Group, Argonne National Laboratory (DOE), Army Research Laboratory (DOD), Avici Systems, Caltech, CISCO Systems, the Dallas Convention Center, the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Extreme Networks, Foundry Networks, GST Telecom, Internet2, Juniper Networks, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (DOE), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (DOE), Marconi, MCI, MITRE Corporation, National Center Scientific Applications (NSF), Northeast Regional Data Center/ University of Florida, Nichols Research/CSC, Nortel Networks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE), Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest Laboratory (DOE), Qwest Communications, Sandia National Laboratory (DOE), SBC Communications, Spirent, Texas A&M; University, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Major Shared Resource Center (DOD), University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, University of Tennessee/Knoxville, the Very high performance Backbone Network Services – vBNS (NSF)
These people are the critical ingredients who make SCinet work. Each year they attempt to top the previous year as well as give the best possible service and support the show. They worked year around planning and implementing SCinet, and then will spend more than three weeks in Dallas building and running SCinet. Without the people, all the fiber, all the routers and all the infrastructure would not pass one bit of information.
For the first time SCinet will offer tours of the NOC and other equipment for attendees and exhibitors. A sign-up sheet will be available at the NOC for a limited number of tours. It is a chance to see the equipment from behind the scenes and get to talk to some of the vendors and volunteers who put together this most intense network.
Working with Cisco Systems, SBC Communications and other vendors, SCinet is creating a large 11 Mbps wireless network on the exhibit floor, in the Education Program area, and other locations throughout the conference space, possibly the entire SC 2000 conference area. This wireless network will support the Education Program and the eSCape2000 activities, among other things.
Wireless connectivity is planned for attendees as well. A standards-based 802.11b network with DHCP service will cover the exhibit floor. Attendees with laptops equipped with standards-compliant wireless Ethernet cards, and an operating system which will configure network services as a client of DHCP should have immediate connectivity. A selection of cards and operating systems known to work are listed on the SCinet web page along with links to vendors, drivers, and instructions. SCinet personnel will not be able to provide direct support to attendees who have trouble connecting.
SCinet will not be providing wireless cards for individual systems. SCinet does not support setup, configuration and/or diagnosis of individual systems, but will provide links to information about these subjects at the web site.
The priority areas supported for wireless are the exhibit areas, education area, convention center lobby, meeting rooms and other spaces. If limits are necessary, we will attempt to indicate range and limits with signage. SCinet discourages people/groups/exhibits from bringing their own base stations, because of issues with base station conflicts. SCinet also reserves the right to disconnect any base station that interferes with the SCinet network.
Xnet is the leading edge, technology-development showcase segment of SCinet. Since exhibitors, users and attendees become more and more dependent on SCinet to provide robust, high-performance, production-quality networking, it has become increasingly difficult for SCinet to showcase bleeding edge, potentially fragile technology. Simultaneously, vendors have sometimes been reticent about showcasing bleeding-edge hardware in SCinet as it became a production network.
Xnet provides the solution to this dichotomy. It provides a context which is, by definition, bleeding-edge, pre-standard, and in which fragility goes with the territory. It thus provides vendors an opportunity to showcase network gear or capabilities which typically does not exist in anyone’s off the shelf catalog.
This year, Xnet will demonstrate early, pre-production 10-Gigabit Ethernet equipment connecting several show floor booths.