Australian genome research facility selects Brocade to handle big data growth

Brocade-logoBangalore, India, July 24, 2014: Driven by the unrelenting growth of genomic data sets, the Australian Genome Research Facility is deploying a high-performance 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) core network across its entire estate, with its Melbourne node the first to go live with new switching infrastructure from Brocade.

A national not-for-profit organization, the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) is the country’s largest provider of genomics services, with laboratories in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth – each providing a gateway to a national network of state-of-the-art facilities, technology and expertise. The AGRF utilizes cutting-edge technology to provide contract genomics services to academic, applied research and commercial markets spanning biomedicine, plant and animal science, microbiology, evolutionary biology and biodiversity.

One of the issues faced by AGRF and the genomic research community at large is coping with Big Data, with the latest generation of gene sequencing technology generating data files of over a terabyte every week off each of its five systems in operation. At the AGRF’s Melbourne node the IT infrastructure has been upgraded to deliver the compute power, storage capacity and network performance to handle the growing data challenge.

AGRF senior systems engineer Gismon Thomas said, “Universities and research institutes are now constantly moving around anything from 100 to 700 gigabytes of data, and the previous network was a real bottleneck for clients. We’re introducing new IT capabilities, including 80 terabytes of storage with 10 GbE connectivity to handle the exponential growth of data archiving. We are also now testing a bioinformatics cloud infrastructure environment based around a set of blade servers that will go into production in the near future. A more capable network infrastructure was absolutely essential to fully enable these new systems.”

To replace its legacy network switches, Gismon said, “AGRF went to market for a solution that could deliver low-latency 10 GbE performance at wire-speed, with a simplified network architecture and streamlined network management. He said the focus was on a cost-effective single-vendor solution that could handle three years of projected network traffic growth, to be rolled out across all AGRF sites.”

In response to AGRF’s requirements, Brocade partner MYCOM, proposed a solution based around the Brocade® ICX® 6610 Switch, which is designed to deliver chassis-like switch capabilities in a stackable form factor. MYCOM was able to demonstrate its solution onsite and run a proof-of-concept project to show that a Brocade ICX 6610 switch stack could meet all of AGRF’s performance and latency requirements while being extremely simple to operate.

“Compared to offerings from the other major switch vendors, the Brocade ICX 6610 switches deliver similar performance but with an outstanding return on investment. Basically we get three switches for the price of one, with two stacked to give us a fully redundant high-performance network core in the server room and the third deployed to handle outside traffic,” said Thomas.

“The solution is very much plug-and-play so it was really easy to set up and, since deployment, we’ve doubled the amount of data running across the network without a problem. There’s capacity to spare in the stack, which we can activate through a software license, enabling us to accommodate more servers over the next 12 months or so. If and when we need more scale, it is a simple matter of adding another switch to the stack.”

Each Brocade ICX 6610 has four dedicated 40 GbE stacking ports that enable up to eight switches to be linked into a single logical device, managed through a single IP address, with 320 Gbps of total backplane stacking bandwidth. Each switch has up to eight 10 GbE fiber ports and 48 1 GbE ports. In a stacked configuration, traffic forwarding is transparent across the pool of ports, all of which deliver wire-speed, non-blocking performance.

Brocade vice president for Asia Pacific Adam Judd said, “As the Australian Genome Research Facility has discovered, the Brocade ICX 6610 switches offer fairly unprecedented levels of performance, availability and flexibility in a stackable form factor. They’re easy to deploy, easy to manage and easy to integrate into both new and existing networks. With capacity upgrades though software licenses and the ability to scale by adding to a stack, this is very much a ‘pay-as-you-grow’ solution that enables the AGRF to easily cope with its Big Data growth.”

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