Case Study

Full Access: GTRI Connects to Department of Defense High-Performance Computing Networks

Published: March 12, 2012

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The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is now connected to the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) and to the Secret Defense Research and Engineering Network (SDREN).

This connectivity provides both GTRI and Georgia Tech academic researchers with peered connectivity to the DREN, the Department of Defense's research and engineering computer network. The DREN provides a robust, high-capacity, low-latency network nationwide and is used by more than 4,000 government and academic scientists, engineers and security experts located at some 220 U.S. sites.

In addition, GTRI researchers now have on-demand access to the SDREN – a common-key, multi-point secure DREN overlay that can connect to almost 80 U.S. sites.

As the first event enabled by its SDREN connectivity, GTRI participated in the Air Ground Integrated Layer Exploration (AGILE) Fire V distributed test and evaluation event recently. As part of that demonstration, GTRI utilized the Joint Mission Environment Test Capability (JMETC) connectivity, an enterprise-level live-virtual-constructive distributed test environment that uses a common infrastructure over the SDREN.

"We are the first university-based organization on the SDREN and JMETC, which gives us additional capabilities across GTRI and our field offices and provides a valuable resource for continuing and expanding our work," said Tom McDermott, GTRI's deputy director and director of research. "GTRI made a strategic investment of more than $1 million over the last four years in secure connectivity for our internal networks, including the Secure Net. Those upgrades are supporting our present DREN/SDREN/JMETC connectivity, giving our researchers the augmented research tools they need."

DREN peering provides access to a large array of DoD high-performance computing resources and the capability to securely exchange large files and participate in nationwide, real time events among multiple partners, said Allan Williams, a senior research engineer involved in GTRI's secure-networking effort. The peering to the DREN is persistent – always available – while peering of the SDREN to the GTRI Secure Network will be available on-demand to support approved projects.

"The DREN enables high-bandwidth connectivity among DoD high-performance computing centers. This allows researchers to move large sets of data among Georgia Tech and DoD facilities," he said. "The SDREN enables this connectivity on demand for projects that require additional security protections, without the need to purchase and install and accredit additional equipment for each project."

GTRI's participation in the AGILE Fire V event was fully successful, said Stephen Moulton, a GTRI principal research engineer. AGILE Fire V demonstrated GTRI's SDREN and JMETC connectivity in a distributed live-virtual-constructive test environment among 13 sites throughout the U.S, Moulton explained. At Georgia Tech, these capabilities were displayed at the Secure Collaborative Visualization Environment (SCoVE), a facility with computing and audio-visual capabilities that allows participants to view and discuss sensitive projects in real time in collaboration with other sites.

"AGILE Fire V was the inaugural event for GTRI on the SDREN and served as a catalyst for government connectivity approvals – a shakedown cruise that helped to fulfill certification and accreditation requirements," Moulton said. "We fully demonstrated a high-bandwidth, low-latency transport capability that makes possible real-time exchange of data and enables our vision for secure multi-site collaboration."

Georgia Tech researchers, both at GTRI and in the academic colleges, will soon be connected to the DREN, said Robert McGrath, vice president of Georgia Tech and director of GTRI. At the same time, SDREN/JMETC connectivity will be available on an as-needed basis for qualified projects.

"Connecting all our researchers to high-performance computing expands research capacity throughout Georgia Tech," McGrath said. "In addition, we're confident that access to the SDREN and JMETC will enhance GTRI's traditional strengths in test and evaluation and enable faster capability development with key partners at lower costs."