Each year, the SC Conference  brings together a diverse set of participants from research universities and labs, academia and industry. Many of these participants work on solving some of the most computationally complex problems ranging from medical research, climate change, and artificial intelligence to having an autonomous vehicle identify a pedestrian crossing a street.

Solving this complex set of questions requires an underlying infrastructure that can provide the compute, storage, networking and monitoring capacity to help unlock the answers to some of these questions. Each year, boundaries of technology are pushed to provide more performance, scale and capacity to help researchers solve these problems faster.

As the networks scale, more and more data needs to be processed for monitoring and security to prevent threats (internal and external to the network) as well as to provide an effective way to do capacity planning, performance/SLA monitoring, historical trend analysis and proactive/reactive incident troubleshooting. Often, these tools can only be as effective as the amount of traffic that they can process to identify threats or anomalous events.

Big Switch’s Big Monitoring Fabric (BMF) provides a modern and simplified way to inspect traffic from the network using taps or span ports, aggregate the traffic, filter it and then load balance the traffic to these sets of tools. These tools can then monitor this traffic and identify any patterns that present a security risk as well as answer any capacity-related questions.

At this year’s SC19, Big Switch is partnering with Dell EMC and Network Critical to provide a monitoring infrastructure to SCinet, the SC Conference’s dedicated high-capacity network infrastructure, for a 400GbE-ready network using new Dell EMC Z9332F-ON (32X400GE) switches. Big Switch provides the next-generation NPB (network packet broker) software that runs on Dell open networking switches managed by a centralized SDN controller and powers this industry-standard (open) hardware to provide the NPB functionality.

Traffic is captured using Network Critical TAPs (mix of 10GbE and 100GbE taps), aggregated to the 400GbE interfaces of the Dell EMC Z9332F-ON switches and then delivered via a network of switches to a cluster of Corelight IDS and Palo Alto security tools. This monitoring and security stack provides a secure network for attendees, vendors and researchers and protects from any day zero attacks from within this network carrying upwards of 4Tbps of traffic.

Here is a representative topology used for SCinet

To learn more about Big Switch’s Big Monitoring Fabric solution, please visit https://www.bigswitch.com/products/big-monitoring-fabric

Salman Zahid
Director, Systems Engineering
Big Switch Networks