CC*Integration: Archipelago: Linking Researchers on-campuses and in the Cloud through SDN-Enabled Microsegmentation

  • Awarding agency:  National Science Foundation
  • Amount: $999,631
  • Grant dates: 11/1/2019 –  10/31/22
  • PI: Tracy Futhey
  • co-PIs: Maria Gorlatova, Richard Biever, William Brockelsby

Researchers often generate very large amounts of data in their work, so much so that their data stresses the underlying computer networks. Some academic institutions build a separate network for research data, but this is very expensive. Archipelago is a project that seeks to improve the performance and security of computer networks to make it easier and less costly for scientists to move, store, and analyze their data. It uses relatively small numbers of very fast, flexible network devices which use a technique known as Software Defined Networking (SDN) to steer research data around bottlenecks giving the appearance of a separate science network without having to spend all the money needed to build a true second network.

Archipelago addresses shortcomings that have limited adoption of SDN within campus networks, beginning with evaluation of next-generation SDN forwarding elements, SmartNIC (Smart Network Interface Card) devices and purpose built SDN data planes to create its hybrid architecture. This architecture connects islands of SDN by enforcing traffic policies at nearby distribution points linked to commodity servers with SmartNICs or next-generation hardware-driven SDN forwarding elements (depending on scale) that provide control plane functionality. This shift from software to SmartNIC forwarding accelerates data plane performance and efficient use of distributed CPU resources for the control plane frees server resources for other uses. This robust policy-driven architecture enables fine-grained traffic forwarding policies for microsegmentation, enhanced cybersecurity, efficient data transfer, and other applications.