Cern awards atom smasher data cloud contract to T-Systems

cern servers

T-Systems has won a contract to provide cloud services to the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research – more commonly known as Cern, the atom smasher. 

Out of approximately 100 particle accelerators in the world, LHC is currently the largest, although it may be overtaken if China goes ahead with its plan to build a similar facility – but twice the size – in 2021.

Scientific experiments at particle accelerators generate “colossal amounts of data”, to borrow Cern’s own words – “30 petabytes or so” every year.

Cern, of course, was the place where the World Wide Web was created, to enable scientists to more easily read each other’s research documents.

But such was the volume of data being generated by its experiments, Cern was unable to keep up with its computing requirements, so turned to data centres around the world and built the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid – a distributed computing infrastructure arranged in tiers.

The 1,450 sq m main “Tier 0” data centre is at Cern, and processes about one petabyte of data every day. The centre hosts 11,000 servers with 100,000 processor cores. Some 6,000 changes in the database are performed every second.

The Grid runs more than 2 million jobs per day. At peak rates, 10 gigabytes of data may be transferred from its servers every second.

Grid is good 

Cern’s Grid uses large amounts of fiber optic cable links and existing high-speed parts of the public internet. In total, the network links more than 170 data centre facilities across at least 41 countries.

Approximately 8,000 scientists have near real-time access to LHC data, and they work across a number of separate but interconnected experiments.

The part which T-Systems has been contracted to develop covers the design, prototyping and pilot phase of the Helix Nebula Science Cloud, which aims to provide an ecosystem that integrates sciences into a business environment.

T-Systems will be working with its technology partner, Huawei, to develop a solution based on its Open Telekom Cloud public cloud service, launched earlier this year and which currently supports workloads from various leading enterprises, small and medium sized businesses and public sector organisations.

The $5.6 billion Helix Nebula Science Cloud project will establish a European hybrid cloud platform designed to support high-performance, data-intensive scientific use-cases sponsored by 10 of Europe’s leading public research organizations and co-funded by the European Commission.

A total of 28 multinational companies, SMEs and public research organisations from 12 countries submitted bids during the summer. The contract will start with a design phase where the four selected consortia will compete to go through to the prototyping phase.

Among the other companies involved in the project are HPE, IBM, Advania, Sixsq, and Indra, according to

Andreas Falkner, vice president, Open Telekom Cloud, digital division at T-Systems, says: “Following the extensive tests, it has become apparent, that Open Telekom Cloud can support the high-performance and data-intensive workloads required.”

T-Systems’ Open Telekom Cloud is based on the OpenStack open source architecture and facilitates the management and migration of data and resources between private and public clouds.

Cern currently operates one of the world’s largest OpenStack private clouds with more than 7,000 servers and 190,000 cores.

Helge Meinhard, from the Cern IT department, says: “We are pleased to collaborate with T-Systems and this contract will allow us to further our understanding of the practical steps needed to integrate commercial cloud services into our physics workflows by increasing the scale of the resources being integrated with the private cloud resources of Cern.”

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Meanwhile, T-Systems, which is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has opened a new data centre in Hayes, to twin with its data centre in Slough. Both towns are west of London, and growing centres of data centre activity.

T-Systems says the new facility has a scalable architecture designed to grow to hyper-scale and is located in the Virtus’ London2 data centre facility. This is one of four data centres that T-Systems operates in the UK and over 60 worldwide.

As well its work on the Cern project, T-Systems is expanding it offerings for business, and has launched the next generation of its enterprise cloud platform.

The Tier 3 facility is expected to open in December, and will offer a range of SAP Hana and cloud solutions.

Christoph Rode, managing director of T-Systems in the UK, says: “We are very excited about the opening of this new data centre and the expansion of the services we can offer our customers.

“It not only gives T-Systems’ customers a choice about the location of their data centre, whether to run their services in the UK or Germany, but it also positions T-Systems as a leading cloud service provider.”

T-Systems says its two London data centre facilities will benefit from its new cloud platform, which “adds a resilient dual-site storage architecture and a dual-site virtual machine architecture which together provide high-availability disaster tolerant services, network and data access, as well as high security access control and management”.