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UK Computational Cosmology Consortium replaces Cisco terminal server with next generation alternative

Slough, UK: Opengear, a leading provider of data centre and remote network infrastructure management solutions, has announced that the system administrators of COSMOS@DiRAC, the UK National Cosmology Supercomputer, have selected Opengear technology to provide secure remote management.

The UK Computational Cosmology Consortium (UK-CCC) was founded by Professor Stephen Hawking in 1996 in recognition of the need for high performance computing resources to advance cosmological research and to maintain the UK's leading role in this highly competitive field. The COSMOS supercomputer, which is now part of the UK DiRAC HPC facility, funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Department of Business, Innovations and Skills (DBIS) is run by the Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP), University of Cambridge.

The overarching aim of the COSMOS Consortium is to develop a seamless history of the Universe from the earliest moments after the Big Bang through to the present day.

The COSMOS system has now been operating successfully for fifteen years through nine major upgrades in a longstanding collaboration with SGI, increasing the overall system capacity and complexity at every stage.

As Andrey Kaliazin, COSMOS System Manager explains, “as we go through the upgrades, compatibility of the management infrastructure with different technologies is critical.”

After serious consideration, the UK National Cosmology Supercomputer Consortium selected a management solution from Opengear. “The Opengear technology offered the most compatibility with network and power elements within our data centre and the open nature of the device means we can integrate it into our existing monitoring systems.”

The Opengear IM4200 series appliance provides always available out-of-band access to an array of critical infrastructure at the COSMOS site, including network hardware from a variety of vendors, server lights-out IPMI management interfaces and UPS systems, connected via the Opengear’s serial console, USB and Ethernet management ports. This enables technicians to monitor the status of the COSMOS system and perform routine maintenance as well as troubleshooting and problem remediation tasks remotely.

The IM4200 can be equipped with temperature, humidity and other environmental sensors for remote monitoring of physical site conditions. The IM4200 series can also be upgraded with an industrial grade cellular module to use any 3G network to deliver real-time out-of-band remote access to the site when the primary network link is down.

“The other factor in selecting Opengear was the level of security and audit control,” explains Mr Kaliazin, “and the open nature of the platform means that we have a long term solution that will last us through a few more upgrades.”

Opengear solutions are particularly beneficial in high security environments offering support for a broad suite of enterprise-grade security protocols, such as strong-cipher Secure Shell, OpenVPN and IPsec, with full authentication against existing services such as Kerberos, Active Directory, TACACS+, and RADIUS with RSA SecurID two-factor.