OSCARS Upgraded to Support Big Science Collaborations


Upgrades include a programmable API, graphical interface and ability to make multi-point reservations

ESnet

The Energy Sciences Network’s (ESnet’s) award-winning OSCARS (On-demand Secure Circuits and Reservation System) has just been upgraded. The tool, now called OSCARS 1.0, allows network engineers to make multi-point bandwidth reservations and features a new programmable API and graphical user interface.

OSCARS is a software service that creates dedicated bandwidth channels for scientists who need to move massive, time-critical data sets around the world. The previous iteration, called OSCARS version 0.6, was finalized and released in 2012. In 2013, it was recognized as one of R&D Magazine’s top 100 technologies.

“OSCARS 1.0 brings a lot of engineering improvements to the tool,” said ESnet Engineer Evangelos Chaniotakis, who led the upgrade. “We simplified the architecture so that engineers can connect more tools. We also made improvements to pathfinder so that users can choose between different flavors of path finding. Now instead of just looking for the shortest path, users can make requests like ‘find me the path with the least amount of devices,’ which ensures resiliency.”

According to Chaniotakis, the most visible change to the tool is the user interface, which now has an almost fully graphical view of the network and the connections on it. Before, users would see this information in a spreadsheet. He notes that with a few clicks of the mouse, OSCAR 1.0 users can get a pretty complex network setup with information about quality of service, network constrains, and scheduling, among other data. OSCARS 1.0 will also continue to support the MSI protocol for international collaborations.

“We’ve deployed OSCARS 1.0 at a few selected sites, and it is considerably faster. I was able set up hundreds of connections with this updated version in the same time it took me to do 10 connections with the previous version,” says John MacAuley, an ESnet Software Architect, who helped test OSCARS 1.0.

The tool also allows engineers to automatically provision jobs on the network, which is especially useful for long-haul, day-to-day tasks for large experiments like the Large Hadron Collider, as well as research projects that require complicated network topologies. Chaniotakis notes that this automatic provisioning is less burdensome for network engineers who used to manually set up these tasks. It will also become a crucial tool as ESnet continues to grow.

Read about the R&D award for OSCARS 0.6: https://cs.lbl.gov/news-media/news/2013/esnet-s-on-demand-bandwidth-reservation-service-wins-r-and-d-100-award/

-Written by Linda Vu