Commitment to Technology in Ohio Gives Companies a Competitive Edge
David Hudak, Ph.D., interim executive director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center
Paul Schopis, interim executive director of OARnet
At a time when businesses rely on digital, fiber and cloud resources to innovate at faster speeds than ever before, Ohio organizations have the benefit of two unique and powerful state assets: The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet).
The Ohio Board of Regents (now the Ohio Department of Higher Education) created OSC and OARnet in 1987 through an act of the Ohio General Assembly. The goal was to provide Ohio businesses and universities with high-performance computing resources that were opening new avenues for research as well as with high-speed connectivity to support research and collaboration.
The two entities have continually grown in reach and capabilities as business needs and technology have evolved. Celebrating their 30th anniversaries this year, OSC and OARnet together represent an exceptional pair of Ohio assets made possible by more than $100 million in state investments. That’s significant money that businesses and research partners located elsewhere must spend themselves.
Why the firm commitment to technology in Ohio? It’s good for Ohio’s economy.
OARnet is a next-generation broadband superhighway consisting of more than 2,240 miles of fiber-optic backbone operating at an ultrafast 100 gigabits per second, the fastest broadband available. The network blankets the state, giving businesses a single connection to Ohio’s R&D resources, including colleges and universities, K-12 schools, public broadcasting stations, academic medical centers, government agencies and partnering research organizations. OARnet helps businesses reduce operating costs and gives them access to a wide array of specialized tools, such as electron microscopes, that may be outside of their budget.
OARnet also provides clients with connections to local, regional and national government and education research partners, such as the Defense Research and Education Network (DREN) and NASA Research labs. In fact, OARnet is the only regional network with access to DREN. Ohio businesses also can use the network to connect to Internet2, a highly secure collaboration environment that includes access to other state and international research and education networks.
Meanwhile, OSC is a fully staffed center that features scalable mid-range machines similar to those found at national centers operated by organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.
OSC is a publicly owned supercomputer center that provides clients with integrated hardware, software and consulting services, all under the same roof. While companies and universities elsewhere typically rely on smaller systems funded and maintained by individual organizations, or even single research or product development groups, OSC is a rare example of a center with several large systems that serves both business and higher education.
The center enables groundbreaking innovation by providing a powerful, high-performance computing, research and educational infrastructure, allowing clients statewide and regionally to solve some of their biggest business and production problems.
From prototyping to process design, OSC can save businesses both time and money while improving products and streamlining operations. That’s because it allows companies to experiment and innovate without incurring significant financial risk.
OSC also offers a range of support that extends beyond the simple access to hardware, a situation that businesses may find elsewhere. Its trademarked AweSim services provide special expertise in modeling, simulation and analysis to industrial clients. AweSim’s cloud-based manufacturing apps extend the competitive benefits of simulation-driven design to small and mid-size businesses that might not otherwise be able to afford such services.
In late March, the Ohio Supercomputer Center will dedicate its newest and largest-ever system—the Dell/Intel Xeon Owens Cluster—that leverages more than 23,000 processors to perform 800 trillion calculations per second.
We’re not sure what the next 30 years will bring. But we know that OARnet and OSC will continue to provide Ohio businesses and partners with the powerful, integrated and far-reaching IT infrastructure needed to outcompete rivals in other states.