National Library of Medicine uses air-blown fiber

MARCH 10, 2009 -- Sumitomo Electric Lightwave says the world's largest medical library is deploying its FutureFLEX Air-Blown Fiber system.

MARCH 10, 2009 -- Sumitomo Electric Lightwave (SEL; search Lightwave for Sumitomo Electric Lightwave) today announced the deployment of its FutureFLEX Air-Blown Fiber system at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library and the information and research arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in all areas of biomedicine and health care.

The NLM houses over 16 million MEDLINE articles and millions of other resources accessed through the at; they are the subject of approximately 900 million searches per year by health professionals, scientists, librarians, and the public. The NLM's two data centers also support the ongoing research and development of the National Center for Biomedical Communications and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which utilize high-bandwidth video and virtual reality to projects including telemedicine, The Visible Human Project and other initiatives, resulting in a large digital image library. Other areas supported by the data centers are the Grant Programs division and the Toxicology and Environmental Health Program.

The combined burden led the NLM to expand its data centers and storage capacity. The expansion of the data centers and support of the growing bandwidth needs of researchers required a reliable, immediately scalable, non-obtrusive, and cost-effective fiber optic backbone infrastructure. The use of air-blown fiber technology enables the NLM to blow any type and amount of fiber in and out of the IT network quickly and easily between and within buildings on an as needed basis, according to SEL. This eliminates the need and expense of dark fiber and enables NLM to respond to bandwidth requirements and any network changes in real-time. NLM can also turn around network projects in 70% to 90% less time and expense once the tube infrastructure is in place, SEL asserts.

"I recommended blown fiber technology because it's a good infrastructure investment and it allows us to respond faster to the needs of the health community, researchers, and publics that NLM serves," says Vic Previll, Computer Science Corp. engineer. "It is also easy and fast to install, provides minimum or no network downtime, and eliminates disruption to the library building, visitors, and researchers since network adds, moves, and changes are completed behind the scenes, unlike conventional cabling systems that require re-entering ceilings and walls."

"With the Obama administration's emphasis on green technology for federal buildings, the air-blown fiber system provides a means to continue further our commitment to environmental responsibility," comments Wesley Russell, section head of engineering at NLM. "We can also budget project to project with air-blown fiber and save significant costs with network changes, thereby allowing us to be fiscally responsible, as well."

The targeted completion date for the data centers' expansion and upgrade, as well as the new air-blown fiber backbone infrastructure, is June-July 2009.

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