Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology at Polish Academy of Sciences deploys advanced virtualization platform

Date: Thu, 09/15/2011 - 19:56

Cisco Unified Computing System provides computing power for research programs and enables the institute to offer cloud computing services to other research facilities

Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology at Polish Academy of Sciences deploys advanced virtualization platform IT infrastructure at Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Poland

Cisco announced that the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology has built a state-of-the-art IT platform based on Cisco Unified Computing SystemTM(Cisco UCS™) technology. The deployment enables the institute to consolidate its physical servers on a virtual platform and to protect its data. The solution constitutes an integrated, high-performance, scalable data center infrastructure, whose components are centrally managed in a simple and fast manner. The network and the server infrastructure together provide a unified virtualization layer covered by Cisco's common maintenance policy.
The virtual data center infrastructure is used to store key research data, including microscope images and a three-dimensional atlas of the brain of small mammals that is currently being developed by the institute. The new virtualization platform also enables full automation of IT processes and accelerated deployment of IT services (IT as a service) both for the institute and other research units of Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS). Furthermore, it significantly reduces the response time, enables better resource utilization, and enables faster access to data and materials in the electronic repository and in external databases.
The virtualization platform enables the institute to offer cloud-based services to other research facilities. One of the first entities to leverage the platform is Biocentrum Ochota, a consortium of six research centers in Warsaw. With the new solution, PAS' member institutes can build an integrated infrastructure and can create, expand and unify various databases.
The new platform will also be used by PAS Digital Library Repository, which provides access to digital data for scientists, research workers and students. The repository stores digitalized research papers, archive materials, research documentation and written cultural heritage, selected from collections of 16 Polish research institutes libraries. The consortium is planning to digitalize more than 25,000 items from the collections of the members' libraries and make them available through a Web-based repository.

Key Facts / Highlights
•The deployed IT infrastructure constitutes a homogeneous, highly scalable environment with expansion possibilities to serve the new facilities and laboratories which are currently being built.
•The server infrastructure is based on the Cisco Unified Computing System. It supports a large number of servers and helps reduce operating costs through lower power consumption, simplified and centralized management, and reduced cabling needs.
•The Cisco Unified Computing System architecture includes a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network, x86 servers and a management system which supports the virtualized environment and enables flexible, fast re-allocation of disk and network resources in the data center. The network is based on the Cisco® Unified Fabric concept, in which 10 Gigabit Ethernet is used for all types of transmissions (Ethernet and Fibre Channel, using the Fiber Channel over Ethernet standard). The integrated management system, the Cisco UCS Manager, helps ensure that the whole platform is administered as a single environment. The system provides a graphical user interface, a text interface, and an XML application programming interface (API) to integrate with other solutions owned by the user. The system is designed so that the time needed to create an environment for a new application is reduced to minutes.
•With Cisco VN-Link, the migration to the fully virtualized environment does not result in losing control over the configuration, performance, and network security of individual operating systems or virtual machines. The Cisco Extended Memory technology enables expanding the memory of a single x86 server (Nehalem-EP/Westmere-EP with 4/6-core architecture) to 384 GB using economical 8-GB RAM modules.
•The local area network (LAN) is based on the Cisco Nexus® 7000 Series Switch, which constitutes the network core. The Cisco Nexus 7000 is a modular, fully distributed, high-performance solution which grows in line with the user needs. Cisco Catalyst® 2960 devices are used for access switching.
•The virtual infrastructure is based on the VMware vSphere 4.1 software. During the deployment, 40 virtual servers were implemented on seven physical servers. The VMware solutions enable the dynamic reallocation of resources on the virtual servers, as well as moving virtual machines between servers without shutting them down. The whole process is designed to take approximately 30 seconds and be transparent to the users.
•The expansion of the IT infrastructure at Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology was implemented under the Innovative Economy Operational Program co-financed by the European Union. The deployment was carried out by Comtegra, a Cisco Select Certified Partner in Poland.

Miroslaw Sikora, head of IT department, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, said: "An efficient IT environment is of key importance for our activities as we aim at maintaining our prestigious position as a leading Polish scientific and research institution. The previous infrastructure, which included distributed resources and servers from various manufacturers, hindered further development. Therefore, it was necessary to modernize our IT infrastructure to effectively support research activities. We now have a reliable, consolidated, scalable IT platform which is easy to expand and enables further development to meet the increasing demand for IT services within our institute and at our research and industry partners. Particularly important is that the technology enabled us to deploy a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network."
Piotr Skirski, regional sales manager, Public Sector, Cisco Poland, said: "Virtualization ensures high flexibility of the IT environment, which was a key requirement in view of the diversified applications and research activities at Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology. Also, the deployed solution improves data access, enables faster image processing, supports efficient visualization of research results, and facilitates management. Those elements are indispensable for a modern laboratory to function and to conduct research."

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