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Viglen delivers £4m contract for petascale data processing and storage in UK’s major environmental science facility

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Viglen delivers £4m contract for petascale data processing and storage in UK’s major environmental science facility

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Published by Hayley Enright for Livewire Public Relations in Education

Viglen, a British IT company, has delivered a £4m contract covering the design, supply and installation of a turnkey integrated HPC computing, storage and network solution to upgrade JASMIN, a major environmental scientific data analysis and simulation facility requiring petascale processing, run by the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) on behalf of NERC (Natural Environment Research Council).

Established in 2012, JASMIN is a super-data-cluster serving the environmental science community – particularly as a scientific platform for manipulating data from earth observation and climate and weather models. During its first year of operation it reached optimum capacity, so this expansion of the facility will enable JASMIN to bolster its role as a system supporting many varied science communities. Existing users include the academic component of the facility for Climate and Environmental Monitoring from Space (CEMS) the Centre for Environmental Data Archival (CEDA), and the national centres of Earth Observation and Atmospheric Science. Other environmental science disciplines will also be supported after the upgrade.

Its new 4000 core compute capability features 200 servers, manufactured by Viglen, who configured a complex, multi-vendor solution using a 10GB Mellanox network and an additional 7 Petabytes of Panasas disk – all delivered within a very tight timeframe. Viglen is a ‘Top Global Panasas Partner’ and the solution supplied and installed at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is one of the largest storage solutions in the world.

JASMIN’s expansion was funded by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) to supplement its high performance storage capability, enabling it to continue providing cutting-edge data analysis resources to UK academics and partners and for its expanding user base.

“Following its successful launch, JASMIN was quickly operating at optimum capacity and we had a dire need for additional power and storage,” said JASMIN Infrastructure manager Jonathan Churchill. “Viglen won a competitive tender on price and performance with its integrated compute, network and storage solution, which is also allowing us to add much improved cloud capability.”  One of the solution’s key benefits is flexibility – the RAL team can deploy whichever solution best suits the task they wish to run; from a virtualised environment to a traditional HPC environment.

“We now have low latency network interface levels for message passing interface (MPI) programmes which means we can run bigger parallel jobs and more of them,” continued Jonathan. 

“Viglen also met the tough challenge of integrating JASMIN phase two with JASMIN phase one, doing a good job understanding our requirements and integrating that into our solution.”

While many of its projects fall within the areas of climate science and earth observation, JASMIN2 is now additionally able to support wider communities and smaller projects based on a range of cloud services. New projects include environmental genomics, hydrology, and earthquake science.

Commenting on the contract, Viglen chief executive Bordan Tkachuk said; “This has been a very important, high profile project for us.  The STFC’s Scientific Computing Department spearheads the exploitation of grid and cloud and big data technologies throughout the council’s programmes, the research communities they support and the national science and engineering base. This has a significant scientific and economic impact on the UK – as well as including a big international element as well.  I am delighted that the design and roll out went so well – it was a huge task to integrate everything in such a tight timeframe.”

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