ESnet launches portal providing community with unprecented network access and visibility


My ESnet portal opens network to the community

The mission of ESnet is to serve the needs of our diverse user community.  We work very hard to deliver the fastest, most reliable and best supported science network on the planet. However, our users have at times expressed that ESnet is a “black box” to them.  We’ve tried to address this in the past by building a variety of user-facing tools, but up until now, those tools were not well integrated with each other.

Today that changes.  Today we publicly launch the MyESnet portal.

What’s a portal?

The term portal or web portal is a widely used but often poorly defined term.  It’s a bit of a buzzword like “web-scale” or “the cloud.” When we talk about a portal we have some very specific ideas about what it is.  At its core the MyESnet portal is about two things: information and community.

The MyESnet portal provides a coherent interface to information about ESnet to our community.

ESnet collects a huge amount of data as part of operating and monitoring the network.  This data is processed and aggregated in various ways to distill useful information.  The MyESnet portal provides a cohesive view of that information organized through a single unified interface.

Who, then, is our community?  The most narrow definition of our community would simply be the sites we are mandated to support for the DOE Office of Science. But in our view that is far too narrow a definition, as the ESnet community expands far beyond these sites and includes people such as the IT staff at peer organizations and major science facilities, the scientists who depend on ESnet to move their data, the DOE program managers, policy makers and even the general public.

What does the portal do today?

The portal currently implements the following features:

  • A high-level view of site status
  • Visualizations of the total traffic that enters and exits a given ESnet site with breakdowns by:
    • protocol (such as TCP or UDP)
    • application (such as SSH, HTTP or FTP)
    • source and destination autonomous system (such as Internet2, GEANT or Google)
    • source and destination country
    • source and destination ESnet site
  • Information on how each site connects to ESnet (both in terms of physical interfaces and BGP peerings)
  • Ranked “top talkers” list, with the final octet of the IP address obscured
  • The ESnet maintenance calendar for viewing past and upcoming outages
  • “Sites of Interest” which allows quick access to information about those sites
  • A matrix showing the availability for all ESnet sites for the last 12 months

The initial incarnation of the portal is aimed at ESnet site coordinators.  However, that doesn’t mean it is only useful to site coordinators.  The public can see nearly all the information listed above for each site and can learn a great deal about how ESnet serves that site.

The only item that will not be visible to the public is the very specific “top-talkers” reports as it may contain somewhat sensitive information. Everything else is available for the public to see.  (Note that most of this data has been publicly available for some time, but the portal consolidates it in one place.)

Where is it going?

We also have some ambitious goals of what the MyESnet portal might become. We would like to see it expand the information it presents — we are already working on additional functionality. We are very interested to know what the community would like to see from ESnet.  Our next task is to develop a tool to make it easy for the ESnet user community to suggest, discuss and rank suggestions for ESnet (including changes to MyESnet).  Following that we will develop visualizations of topology information.  These visualizations will include tools to show how sites connect to ESnet, what paths traffic takes from a site to user defined endpoints, and visualizations of OSCARS circuits and the overall topology of ESnet.  These efforts will include integration with more internal data sources as well as external data sources via perfSONAR.

Check out the new portal at https://my.es.net.  Or take a look at the explanatory screen cast which demonstrates the portal with video and voice commentary.

Giving our user community a view into the network is only part of the equation when it comes to enabling science to use networks effectively.  We have also developed an extensive knowledge base about how to build, tune and troubleshoot networks to meet the needs of modern, data intensive science.  Be sure to take a look at fasterdata.es.net for more information.

MyESnet is your own personal, customized view of ESnet.  What else would you like to see?

We look forward to hearing what you think, and your suggestions and comments.  Please send any and all feedback to the ESnet Tools Team at tools@es.net.  If you would like to be notified when changes are made to the portal you can join the portal-announce@es.net email list by visiting https://listserv.es.net/mailman/listinfo/portal-announce.

–Jon Dugan and the Tools Team