NOAA Broadband Project

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NOAA CENTER for WEATHER and CLIMATE PREDICTION (NCWCP)
Network Infrastructure Planning

INTRODUCTION

decision analysis partners LLC (dap) was part of a team selected to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in planning the design and migration of electrical, mechanical, telecommunications and audio-visual systems for the NCWCP. The NCWCP is a new building located in College Park, MD that was in the initial design phase. It is replacing the World Weather Building, an older facility in Camp Springs, MD. dap was responsible for Wide Area Networking and coordination with other areas.

SITUATION

The initial objective of the project was to migrate the existing wide area networks from the World Weather Building in Camp Springs to the new NCWCP building in College Park, MD. After an initial review, it became apparent that the existing networks were a combination of point solutions implemented over time and did not provide an optimal networking solution from a technical, cost, throughput or reliability standpoint. Based on our recommendations, NOAA agreed to proceed with an Enterprise-Wide approach to their requirements.

APPROACH

To gain an understanding of the existing requirements, decision analysis partners reviewed documentation describing existing communications systems and interviewed user representatives in all affected areas. Current and projected network throughput information was also obtained. Network availability requirements were also investigated. It was learned that network bottlenecks and unplanned outages had recently been encountered and had caused significant difficulties for the organization. dap also worked closely with team members responsible for local area networking as well as voice, audio/visual systems and structured cabling. In addition, dap collaborated with carriers who had fiber in the areas where services were required.

RESULTS

  • Designed an Enterprise-Wide dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) Network (WAN) using fiber optics and carrier-grade equipment to connect NOAA Headquarters, the NOAA Satellite Operations Center, the World Weather Building and the NCWCP (all in the metropolitan Washington, DC area) with NOAA’s remotely-located supercomputer sites in Maryland and West Virginia. The initial network provided 10 gigabit Ethernet services in a protected ring with full diversity and no single point of failure. This service is expandable to 160 gigabits using the same fiber. It has been operational for over three years without a single service affecting outage. The recommended network was provided by Qwest (since acquired by Century Link).
  • Also designed a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) based Wide Area Network connecting major NOAA locations with NOAA field offices and other government Departments and Agencies to distribute NOAA’s forecasts and other data products. This included the National Hurricane Center, the Aviation Weather Center, the Storm Prediction Center, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Network diversity was also added, providing all locations with diverse local loops connecting them to the backbone network for the first time. The recommended network was provided by Qwest (since acquired by Century Link).