The King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) is a major science and technology university in Thailand and has the strongest ICT capability among the country’s universities. Located in Bangkok, the university is considered the most prestigious for technical undergraduates and offers a curriculum that includes machinery, electronic engineering, architecture, control, management, communication, medicine, and liberal arts.
Unlike many of its conservative counterparts, KMITL’s Computer Center has kept abreast of ICT developments and put together an advanced plan for its campus network. They aim to build an SDN-based, high-performance, unified campus network that integrates various education functions. After nearly ten months of communication and customized development, Huawei had developed a full-service comprehensive campus solution that perfectly matched the Computer Center’s blueprint.
How was the campus network built from scratch? What difficulties were encountered during the construction? How were the difficulties overcome? Let’s find out.
Disagreement at the Beginning
Responsible for network construction and O&M, the KMITL Computer Center put forward specific requirements on computing nodes, block storage nodes, and object storage nodes, based on its own understanding and ideas of campus network construction. Although the requirements were clear, smooth communication is important to avoid misunderstandings. For example, the Computer Center insisted that the computing nodes must be open and that Huawei’s solution must support OpenStack. At that time, however, their understanding of the development, applicable scenarios, and O&M of OpenStack in the ICT industry was misguided, leading to the concern that the OpenStack versions of different vendors are isolated and against the open source principle.
KMITL’s technical team further required distributed block storage equipped with the open source distributed storage software Ceph, because block storage was mainly used for storing VM data. They also recommended connecting block storage to a gateway to provide object storage.
After several rounds of proactive talks, Huawei had dug out the deep requirements behind the project and provided an optimized and professional solution. Huawei deployed FusionStorage to support VM data storage requirements and used OceanStor 9000 distributed NAS systems for storing files. This solution is easy to deploy because the NFS/CIFS protocols are supported without the need for a gateway. By using NVMe SSDs as the cache, FusionStorage hybrid storage can provide performance several times higher than AFAs running Ceph. OceanStor 9000 adopts distributed RAID, which can improve the efficiency and security of resource information service compared to the triple-write redundancy of Ceph, not to mention the better scalability and easier cost control enabled by OceanStor 9000. At last, the customer was fully convinced by the professional capabilities of Huawei and accepted all of Huawei’s proposals.
The Devil Is in the Details
Huawei thoroughly analyzed KMITL’s requirements and offered solutions according to conditions on the campus network, impressing KMITL with its professionalism and knowledge. For example, KMITL suggested that, due to the scattered deployment of servers, deploying a location-independent virtual network would be preferential. Huawei also suggested the need to automate network configuration, helping KMITL improve efficiency over its current use of the self-service network construction mode. In addition, KMITL required that in-depth security checks be performed and traffic be directed to the security resource pool based on requirements to ensure access security of the virtual network.
Huawei’s ultimate solution perfectly meets KMITL’s requirements. Huawei’s software-defined agile switches support development of customized solutions. The solution uses a vendor-independent open platform and supports various storage services, reducing the required investment. In addition, it supports unified and heterogeneous management, reducing O&M costs.
What Does the KMITL Campus Network Look Like?
After months of deployment, Huawei helped KMITL realize its original plan and ideas.
Today, KMITL’s campus network is composed of the campus network, data center network, and RND network. In the organizational structure of the campus network, networks of the different organizations are interconnected or isolated based on service requirements. In the network service model, each virtual network forms an independent security domain based on the KMITL NG Campus, which is the unified physical carrier network. The virtual networks are isolated from each other, and security control is implemented by the security group inside virtual networks.
In the virtual campus network architecture, KMITL built the SDN-based virtual campus network and used the VXLAN network architecture to co-deploy both the campus network and the DC and to provide virtual campus network services. Thanks to the campus network, the university’s staff and students can benefit from the 100G non-blocking forwarding, large bandwidth, and high security that the campus network provides, as well as the improved user experience brought by in-depth wired and wireless convergence. In addition, the layer-by-layer security isolation from the virtual network to the firewall and then to the security group ensures network security.
KMITL also had difficulties in deciding the location of the equipment room. The existing equipment room was old, and renovating it would be an arduous task. However, building a new equipment room on KMITL’s land would incur significant costs in terms of labor and time. Therefore, KMITL required a container-based data center. Its advantages include a small footprint and easy deployment. It can be deployed in a container that houses all necessary facilities, including the power supply, cooling system, cabinets, cable layout, fire suppression, lightning protection, and surveillance. The container-based data center solution can meet the education data computing requirements of the university without changes to the environment. Huawei’s Prefabricated All-in-One Data Center solution perfectly matches KMITL’s requirement.
Disagreement is inevitable in any cooperation. Fortunately, Huawei considered how to deploy the campus network to better meet the service requirements from KMITL’s perspective. Through KMITL and Huawei’s joint efforts and thorough communication, the solution was delivered and brought the following benefits to KMITL:
• Industry-leading ICT technologies, such as 100G and SDN, will consolidate KMITL’s leading position among the universities in Thailand.
• The unified physical network supports virtualization to share resources and isolate services of different departments of the university.
• After the education cloud platform is built, cloud services can be leased to the departments of KMITL and other universities.
KMITL’s above-100G SDN campus network sets a benchmark for IT system construction for other universities and provides a showcase of high-end 100G SDN and cloud data center for the education industry — not just in Thailand, but also around the world.