TERENA Networking Conference 2000    

The Canadian Bioinformatics Resource, CBR-RBC, a model for a distributed national bioinformatics facility

Christoph W. Sensen, National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Marine Biosciences, Canada

The Canadian Bioinformatics Resource was founded in 1996, initially as an intranet service for the National Research Council of Canada's Biotechnology Institutes (CBR-I). During the first development phase, approximately 40 UNIX servers and workstations were installed in six NRC Institutes. The Institutes are located between Halifax on Canada's east coast and Vancouver on Canada's west coast, which is 4 time zones away from Halifax. All machines are connected through Ca*netII (45 mbit/sec). The connections are being upgraded to Ca*net3, Canada's Gigabit Internet within the next six month. The very advanced network connections allow to centralize system maintenance and decentralize the computational power at the same time. Data disks from Halifax are exported throughout the country, allowing efficient data and application administration. The wide area network has been expanded by the addition of Associate Members, today 11 nodes operate in Canada and more than 60 UNIX servers and workstations are part of the computational infrastructure.

CBR-RBC has also been expanded to form a national service for academic institutions in Canada (CBR-II). CBR-RBC is the host of Canada's EMBnet node, which is using a 12 CPU Sun Enterprise 4000 machine, that was donated by Sun Microsystems of Canada. This machine also functions as a mirror for ExPASy, the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics services, and other services. CBR-RBC's web services now serve about 100000 Web pages per month, approximately 50% of the server load originates in Canada. CBR-II offers login services, disk space and access to iPlanet Webtop (a system that allows users to work with an X-desktop within Java enabled Web browersers).

The decentralization of the computing power makes it very easy to expand and enhance CBR-RBC. Currently, new Genomics initiatives in Canada are likely to put more demands on CBR, which will have to grow according to the needs of Canadian science. We are planning to add capabilities for high performance storage (chip and high density array data) and comparative genomics (GeneMatcher) within the next year.

Full Paper PDF (208KB) - Slides (956KB)



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