ESnet Staff Take Expertise on the Road to Help Universities Operate Innovative Networks


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ESnet’s Jason Zurawski (standing center) presents at the OIN workshop held in March 2016 at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.

Although ESnet is well known for its expertise in supporting the transfer of datasets across the country and around the globe, for the past four years the facility’s staff has also been transferring their networking expertise to staff at other research and education organizations.

Partnering with Internet2 and Indiana University, ESnet co-led 23 workshops as part of the Operating Innovative Networks (OIN) series. Through both in-person and online workshops, the organizers reached and estimated 750 network employees at 360 institutions in 39 states and 38 other nations.

Each workshop was held at a different location and sites were usually chosen by working with regional research and education (R&E) networks. This allowed smaller organizations to tap into the combined expertise of the of the workshop leaders and also made the workshops more accessible to staff at institutions without large travel budgets, said Jason Zurawski, ESnet’s lead for the workshops.

The workshops followed a standard format. The first day covered the Science DMZ architecture, data transfer node tuning and the perfSONAR measurement software. The second day was devoted to some of the concepts behind software-defined networking.

“The OIN workshops have a good balance of lecture and hands-on practical experience. I got the most out of the exercises where the instructors, like Jason Zurawski, took real-world performance issues from the attendees’ live perfSONAR servers and demonstrated how to analyze, explain, and, in several cases resolve, throughput limitations, said Network Manager Brian Jemes of Information Technology Services at the University of Idaho. “In addition, the OIN workshops provided an opportunity to meet and share information with research information technology teams outside our institution.”

Zurawski said that on a couple of occasions, the instructors diverted from the planned instruction to address real-time issues, such as debugging network performance problems and rethinking a planned network architecture.

According to Zurawski, the workshop leads conducted surveys after every session and universally, the responses said the workshops were very timely and very useful. While the larger organizations could more quickly apply the information to their operations, the smaller schools were more likely to use the content for planning and then implement as resources were made available.

“We really tried to include as many institutions as we could in each session and optimize the location to reduce travel,” said Zurawski, who convened all 23 workshops. “We really saw this as an opportunity to talk to the people on the ground who were trying to implement these technologies.”

The value of the workshops was recognized by both the DOE Office of Science, which funded ESnet to participate, and the National Science Foundation, which provided funding under award number 1541421 for the last 10 workshops as part of its Campus Cyberinfrastructure program.

Jemes said his network team had found significant throughput limiting issues, such as microbursts of packet loss due to a faulty optical card in our service provider’s network, that none of their network management tools could identify. At the workshop, they learned that perfSONAR servers “are an indispensable tool for maintaining a high throughput network path for the hosts in our Science DMZ.”

“But despite being well-designed with good documentation and packaged for easy install, perfSONAR is not a turn-key solution,” Jemes said. “To set up and use perfSONAR effectively, you need to do network and server tuning.”

In all, the University of Idaho sent five people to OIN workshops over the past four years and “we found the workshops to be extremely valuable in quickly getting experienced network engineers and server administrators up-to-speed on the effective tuning and operation of a perfSONAR server and the science DMZ network,” Jemes said.

In September 2015, Clemson University hosted one of the workshops at the invitation of Kate Petersen Mace, then director of External Partnership Management at Clemson. In that role, she was project manager for the university’s NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure award which funded installation of a Science DMZ and implementation of software-defined networking tools.

“As we completed the project, there was interest by both our network engineers and university researchers in learning more about the work and I also wanted to share this deeper knowledge about the Science DMZ with surrounding universities,” said Mace, who joined ESnet’s Science Engagement Team in December 2015. “It was very well attended and all of the people I talked to said it was very beneficial.”

After joining ESnet, Mace began helping teach at the workshops, in particular talking about the importance of science engagement and security best practices, “not to dictate exactly what to do, but to give them ideas on what to think about when implementing new technologies and capabilities. We discussed that the Science DMZ is meant to serve as a security architecture, not just a way to speed up data transfers.”

Although the workshop series is now on hiatus. Zurawski said the team is considering whether to continue them, adapting the content based on feedback from attendees. And while many universities have gotten up to speed after attending an OIN workshop, there is still a need for new information.

Damian Clarke, the CIO for South Carolina State University (SCSU), was the first representative from his university to attend one the workshops, was also the final one held in December 2017.

“As the CIO of SCSU, I was impressed by the knowledge base of the presenters and the right balance of lecture and hands-on exercises,” Clarke said. “I felt that many topics were covered without feeling overwhelmed or confused. I hope that the workshops continue to be funded as more HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and MSIs (Minority Serving Institutions) need to attend.”

 

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Visits Berkeley Lab


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Under the guidance of ESnet Director Inder Monga and Network Engineer Eli Dart, Secretary Perry transferred 500GB of data in minutes from ALCF  to NERSC with Globus software. (Photo by Paul Mueller, Berkeley Lab)

On March 27, 2018, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), getting a firsthand view of how Berkeley Lab combines team science with world-class facilities to develop solutions for the scientific, energy, and technological challenges facing the nation.

During his stop at Shyh Wang Hall, Perry learned about Berkeley Lab’s contributions to DOE’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing program (HPC4Mfg) from Peter Nugent, Berkeley Lab Computational Research Division (CRD) Deputy for Scientific Engagement.

Under the guidance of Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) Director Inder Monga and Network Engineer Eli Dart, Perry also transferred 500GB of data from the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility in Lemont, Illinois to the National Energy Research Computing Center (NERSC) in Berkeley, California with Globus software in minutes.

NERSC Deputy Katie Antypas then took Perry on a tour of NERSC’s machine room, where he signed the center’s newest supercomputer Cori.

The Secretary’s visit is part of a three-day Bay Area tour that included stops at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories’ California, Berkeley Lab and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

For more photos visit our Facebook Page.

Learn more about the visit: https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2018/03/27/secretary-of-energy-perry/

Into the Medical Science DMZ


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Speeding research. The Medical Science DMZ expedites data transfers for scientists working on large-scale research such as biomedicine and genomics while maintaining federally-required patient privacy.

In a new paperLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) computer scientist Sean Peisert and Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) researcher Eli Dart and their collaborators outline a “design pattern” for deploying specialized research networks and ancillary computing equipment for HIPAA-protected biomedical data that provides high-throughput network data transfers and high-security protections.

“The original Science DMZ model provided a way of securing high-throughput data transfer applications without the use of enterprise firewalls,” says Dart. “You can protect data transfers using technical controls that don’t impose performance limitations.”

Read More at Science Node: https://sciencenode.org/feature/into-the-science-dmz.php 

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Left: Eli Dart, ESnet Engineer | Right:  Sean Peisert, Berkeley Lab Computer Scientist

Women in IT Invited to Apply for WINS Program at SC18 Conference


WINS_logo_HorzApplications are now being accepted for the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program at the SC18 conference to be held Nov. 11-16 in Houston. WINS seeks qualified female U.S. candidates in their early to mid-career to join the volunteer team to help build and run SCinet, the high-speed network created at each year’s conference. Here’s how to apply.

WINS was launched to expand the diversity of the SCinet volunteer staff and provide professional development opportunities to highly qualified women in the field of networking. Selected participants will receive full travel support and mentoring by well-known engineering experts in the research and education community.

For the second year in a row, Kate Mace of ESnet’s Science Engagement Team is the WINS chair for SCinet.

Applications are to be submitted using the WINS Application Form. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 23 (Pacific time). More information can be found on the SC18 WINS call for participation.

Each year, volunteers from academia, government and industry work together to design and deliver SCinet. Planning begins more than a year in advance and culminates in a high-intensity, around-the-clock installation in the days leading up to the conference.

Launched in 2015, the success of the WINS program led to an official three-year award by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and DOE-ESnet. WINS is a joint effort between ESnet, the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER), the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and SCinet.

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CENIC Honors Astrophysics Link to NERSC via ESnet


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A star-forming region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (Credit: European Space Agency via the Hubble Telescope)

An astrophysics project connecting UC Santa Cruz’s Hyades supercomputer cluster to NERSC via ESnet and other networks won the CENIC 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for Research Applications announced last week.

Through a consortium of Science DMZs and links to NERSC via CENIC’s CalREN and the DOE’s ESnet, the connection enables UCSC to carry out the high-speed transfer of large data sets produced at NERSC, which supports the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) and AGORA galaxy simulations, at speeds up to five times previous rates. These speeds have the potential to be increased by 20 times the previous rates in 2018. Peter Nugent, an astronomer and cosmologist from the Computational Research Division, was pivotal in the effort. Read UC Santa Cruz’s press release.