Academic & Research Technologies
David B. Leonard

Academic & Research Technologies (ART) seeks to create and maintain enabling information technology, particularly in support of Georgia Tech's academic and research missions. Our goal is to facilitate Institute and external partnerships, architectures, technology pilots, and leading edge infrastructures that deliver unique and sustained competitive advantage to Georgia Tech faculty, students, and staff. By building services and capabilities that can be leveraged for research and academic purposes - even strategic production services such as the state-of-the-art Georgia Tech network - ART strives to support and partner in pursuit of funding for projects in educational technologies, networking, high performance computing, video, mobility, and network security.

ART also strives to foster a work environment that is customer centered; encourages, enables, and rewards innovation, service excellence, teamwork, and collaboration (both within OIT and the Georgia Tech community); and effectively balances leading edge and production activities.



Network Services Team

The Network Services Team is focused on the architecture, design, implementation, operation, and security of the Georgia Tech network. Throughout its existence, the purpose of the Georgia Tech network has been to provide a strategic resource to the Institute as an educational and research enterprise, and to our faculty, students, and staff. What makes the GT network a singular resource to the Institute is not simply continued access to leading edge wired and wireless network capabilities. Instead, it is emphasis on leveraging GT’s investment and unique position as a pre-eminent network and network service hub, establishing key partnerships with industry, and working directly with and in service to faculty, students, and staff that allows us to provide capabilities with few parallels in academia or industry.

The GT network consists of more than 87,000 ports and 2,100 managed devices in over 155 buildings linked by a 10-gigabit per second (Gbps) network core. The GT LAWN (Local Area Walkup/Wireless Network) is available for use in nearly every building on all three Georgia Tech operated campuses (Atlanta, GT-Lorraine, and GT-Savannah) and high-use outdoor spaces (in excess of 60% of the campus outdoor footprint in Atlanta), consisting of more than 2,300 managed access points. An extensive and successful deployment of greater than 320 border, sensitive server, and per-unit firewalls assures that all appropriate internal campus networks are protected by a prudent level of firewall protection aligned with their academic, research, and business needs.

High Performance Research and Education Networks

Since the mid-80’s Georgia Tech and OIT have provided instrumental leadership in high-performance networks for research and education regionally, nationally, and internationally. A founding member of Internet2 (I2) and National LambdaRail (NLR) – high bandwidth networks dedicated to the needs of the research and education (R&E) community – OIT manages and operates Southern Light Rail (SLR, the NLR regional aggregation) and Southern Crossroads (SoX, the I2 regional GigaPOP). We work within the six Southeastern states to make affordable high-performance network access and network services available to researchers and faculty at Georgia Tech, their collaborators, other higher-education systems, K-12 systems, and beyond.

Infrastructure Engineering Team

The Infrastructure Engineering team provides Georgia Tech and individual departments with physical network designs as well as any additions, moves, changes, and repairs that may be necessary. This includes all Georgia Tech fiber and copper cabling infrastructure and pathways for data, telephony, and cable television networks, as well as wireless network provisioning. With respect to all cabling infrastructure, the team is responsible for setting standards, design and quality control for new construction, and design, contracting, and project management for renovations. Working closely with departmental clients and Georgia Tech Facilities, the team handles over $2 million in contracts annually, representing in excess of 300 projects. In additional to their engineering design and support roles, the team also evaluates new technologies, anticipating and planning for their implementation and deployment at Georgia Tech in support of future applications.

Classroom Design Team

The Classroom Design team provides the Institute and departments with standards and designs for technology equipped learning spaces at Georgia Tech. Working with units, faculty, administration, and groups such as the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) and Space Planning, the team strives to match pedagogical needs, up-to-date technology trends, and sustainability and supportability in their designs and standards. The team is responsible for contracting, quality control, and project management for construction or renovation of all technology equipped learning spaces, handling an average of 25 projects annually at a cost of approximately $1 million. Classroom Design partners very closely with the Classroom Support Team, which is responsible for continuing support of technology equipped learning spaces once they are placed into service. Currently, there are more than 375 such spaces at Georgia Tech supported by the team, of which 150 are centrally scheduled classrooms.

Digital Media Initiatives

Digital Media Initiatives (DMI) delivers a collection of multimedia services to the Georgia Tech community in support of the academic, communications, and research missions - principally digital media streaming, management, and storage.  Leveraging OIT's Enterprise Storage and Backup (ESB) initiatives, DMI offers a robust enterprise level service, hosting over five terabytes of dedicated storage (and near-line backup) to support on-demand streaming of stored digital audio and video content in most major formats.  An allocation of DMI storage space is available to any Georgia Tech unit wishing to store and stream digital media.

The DMI team works closely with individual academic units, the Library, Communications and Marketing (COMM), and Professional Education (PE) to assure that Institute needs are met.  DMI also provides limited services for relaying live video and audio streams (AKA webcasting) using Flash based (RTMP) encoding applications.

High Performance Computing

OIT offers a spectrum of services in support of high performance computing (HPC) capabilities for Georgia Tech academic units, research groups, faculty, students, and staff. Research in a wide variety of science and engineering disciplines increasingly relies on the rapidly growing capabilities of HPC as a key enabler of inquiry and discovery. The explosion of interest in the use of computation clusters - which utilize a collection of commodity computers as a computation resource - presents challenges in a numbers of areas, including security, systems administration, computation middleware, compilers, user support, networking, disk storage and backup, HVAC, power, space, hardware configuration and troubleshooting, procurement, and efficient sharing of resources.

OIT has established the Public Access Cluster Environment (PACE) initiative, which seeks to address each of these challenges in a coordinated and efficient manner, making the power of HPC more widely and cost-effectively available to all members of the Georgia Tech research community. It is especially targeted to provide the level of specialized hosting, services, and skills necessary to effectively deploy and utilize cluster computing. PACE currently supports approximately 4,000 high performance CPU cores for campus clients, including research programs in Physics, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The PACE Community Cluster (PACE-CC) is a medium-sized computation cluster (approximately 200 CPU cores) formed with joint OIT, industry, and faculty collaboration and funding. Utilizing shared network, software, support, storage, and backup infrastructure, it is generally available as a computation and instructional resource. PACE-CC allows HPC researchers to evaluate various technologies and software before purchase, to have a place to work if waiting for dedicated machines that are on order, and to share resources with other researchers when desired.

The Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center (GT-RNOC)

The Georgia Tech Research Network Operations (GT-RNOC) is a full-fledged academic center hosted in OIT, the first enabling center on campus with a focus on empowering collaborations between researchers, academics, operators, and industrial sponsors, particularly in high-performance networking and mobile communications. GT-RNOC works at the intersection of Operations, Research and Academics, and Industry in the broadest form of the information technology field. GT-RNOC provides a unique competitive advantage for Georgia Tech that leverages the network as both a set of enabling technology for research and an unprecedented resource for researchers. Over $26 million in research proposals have been submitted as a result of GT-RNOC enabled collaborations.

Enabling technologies include dedicated high-performance network connectivity for collaboration, commercial services, and sharing of unique instrumentation and large datasets. Resources include access to live operational network data collection, specialized measurement and monitoring of operational networks and services, and partnerships to build testbeds for new technologies, tools, and services. The GT-RNOC/AT&T Cellular Research Agreement provides faculty and their students with uncommon access to cellular devices, SIMs, airtime and data services, and live system data in support of research and instruction activities.

GT-RNOC’s Convergence Innovation Lab provides research resources and conducts courses in mobile and converged applications unique in academia. The Lab’s annual Convergence Innovation Competition has awarded several hundred thousand dollars in prizes and graduated many student projects to Georgia Tech's VentureLab for possible commercialization.

Campus Cable TV (CATV)

OIT manages and provides engineering support for the cable television (CATV) headend, satellite, and video distribution facilities in partnership with Georgia Tech Cable Network (GTCN), a division of Auxiliary Service's Department of Housing.

GTCN manages the contracts with the system's programming providers, supplies on-campus video production services, and provides CATV system customer support and repairs in the Residential buildings. OIT provides customer support and repairs for the Academic CATV system in more than 55 non-residential buildings.