ESnet’s Monga to Lead Quantum Network Discussions at DOE Workshop


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Inder Monga, ESnet Director

Inder Monga, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), is headed to Rockville, MD next week to participate in the Quantum Networks for Open Science (QNet) Workshop, to be held Sept. 25-26.

Sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, the event will bring together experts from national labs, industry, government, and academia to identify research challenges and opportunities in the development and deployment of quantum networks to support distributed quantum information science (QIS) activities. The workshop will cover a spectrum of quantum communications networks and subsystems, including quantum interconnects, quantum local area networks, quantum metropolitan networks, and quantum wide area networks.

“While we are busy designing and developing our next-generation network ESnet6, we need to look ahead to the emerging quantum technologies that will impact our science users to ensure that we have a deep understanding of the technological issues and are able to invest in the appropriate infrastructure when needed,” said Monga, who is on the organizing committee for the QNet workshop and will co-lead a discussion on Operations and Control for Quantum Networks with Dr. Ben Yoo from the University of California, Davis and Dr. Cees de Laat from the University of Amsterdam, an affiliate of Berkeley Lab and a member of the QuSoft Research Center on Quantum Software.

– Written by Kathy Kincade

ESnet Summer Students: Mentoring The Next Generation of Network Engineers


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ESnet interns (left to right) Kunal Singh, Hocine Mahtout and Aaron Jia

Summer student interns have a lot to offer Berkeley Lab: they are motivated, energetic and can bring fresh perspectives to old problems. They also represent the next generation of researchers and engineers. To capture the best talent, ESnet has built an internship program that operates as a student-to-staff pipeline, channeling not only talent but diversity into Berkeley Lab, said Patricia Giuntoli, area lead for Networking and Systems at ESnet.

“Diversity is important in order to have unique and different views. Sometimes solving a problem or getting to a new place can be challenging, and having people with different experiences and views can help create unique solutions,” said Giuntoli.

This summer, four students have been working at ESnet. Three of them—Hocine Mahtout, from the Bordeaux Graduate School of Engineering; Kunal Singh, from UC Berkeley; and Aaron Jia, who is also attending UC Berkeley—are working with ESnet Research Scientist Mariam Kiran on a project that employs machine learning and parallel computing to optimize network traffic and path allocation. In 2017, Kiran received an Early Career Award to support this work.

Jia and Singh are developing algorithms to predict network traffic and deep-learning methods to model network traffic. This information can be used to prepare for intense server traffic and help designate server workload. When they are done with the research, they will each write a paper about their findings and present their findings at SC18 in Dallas, TX.

Mahtout is also working on a separate project with Kiran. A few years ago, Kiran started working on iNDIRA, a software package that translates a user command written in English (not a programming language) into network commands. After seeing Kiran talk about iNDIRA in a presentation, Mahtout independently contacted Kiran to discuss ways they might work together. They later launched a second version of the project called EVIAN that incorporates machine learning to improve future interactions with users.

We did not intend on creating a new version of iNDIRA, but because Mahtout was so excited about working on it we now have a second version of iNDIRA coming out,” Kiran said. “As an intern you see the environment and the types of science happening here and making a difference to everyday life, and it’s so exciting that it makes you want to be part of it all.”

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Enet intern John Christman

Meanwhile, the fourth student—John Christman, a senior from University of Nevada, Reno whose father, John Christman Sr., recently retired from ESnet after 29 years—is working with ESnet Network Engineer Nick Buraglio to improve ESnet security and traffic analysis software. Christman, who also worked at ESnet last summer doing network traffic analysis, is working with the monitoring group to improve ESnet’s networks by getting new servers and networks up and running and securing them from cybersecurity attacks.

“John has been tasked with working on the prototyping team for a next-generation management network design,” said Nick Buraglio, ESnet network engineer and Christman’s mentor. “John has excelled at both the tasks of leading pieces of a larger project as well as operating as a high performing team member. He has gained experience with completing deliverables that are critical pieces of a larger project.”

At the University of Nevada Reno, Christman is majoring in Information Systems, which is similar to computer science except geared towards use in enterprise. He plans to get his masters degree in this subject at UC Berkeley.

“I’ve learned an incredible amount while I’ve been here. From hearing presentations from world-class scientist to gaining hands-on experience, this summer has been filled with new insights on cutting-edge information,” he said. “My expectations have not only been met but exceeded. I look forward to coming in everyday, as each day brings something new and exciting. I’m truly blessed to be interning here this summer.”

One of ESnet’s goals with the summer student program is to give students the opportunity to gain a working knowledge of ESnet that might lead them to join the ESnet team once they graduate. Several ESnet employees, including Kiran, Sowmya Balasubramanian and Scott Richmond, began their careers at the lab as interns.

“My goal was to educate myself and gain practical experience in network operations so I could leverage that into a career in industry and the laboratory was a well-respected place that was accepting interns,” said Richmond, who is now a network engineer at ESnet. “After spending nearly a year at ESnet as a student assistant, the training and education I received from my mentors and colleagues in software, hardware and networking allowed me to transition to a full-time career as a Computer Systems Engineer with ESnet, working in the Operations and Deployment group.”

Some of this summer’s interns may just follow suit.

“This internship has gotten me thinking about what I want to do in the future,” said Jia. “I had never had formal work experience before, and this gave me a great idea of what it’s like.”

Written by Cleighton Roberts

Recap: ESnet at the 2nd National Research Platform Workshop


Last week, several ESnet staff members organized and participated in the second annual National Research Platform (NRP)  workshop. Held August 6-7, 2018, at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, the workshop brought together representatives from more than 100 key institutions that are working to create a nationwide science data network.

Co-sponsored by a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), CENIC, ESnet and Internet2 and hosted by Montana State University, the workshop was designed to identify best strategies for enabling high-performance data transfer via interoperable Science DMZs and data transfer nodes at a national scale.

Read more about ESnet’s NRP contribution here.

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Left to right: Workshop Co-chairs Larry Smarr (UCSD/CALIT2) and Inder Monga (ESnet) give opening comments at the NRP workshop.  (Photo: Jeffery Weekly, UC Merced)

 

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ESnet Director Inder Monga participates in a panel discussion titled, “Scaling Across the NRP Ecosystem From Campus to Regional to National – What Support Is There?”                               (Photo: Glenn Ricart , US Ignite)

 

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ESnet’s Eli Dart gave a keynote talk titled, “A Modern Cyberinfrastructure: The Ladder to the Shoulders of Giants.” (Photo: Glenn Ricart , US Ignite)
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ESnet’s Kate Petersen Mace chairs a panel discussion about international-scale measurement technologies/ techniques. (Photo: Glenn Ricart , US Ignite)
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Second annual NRP workshop at Montana State University.  (Photo:Glenn Ricart , US Ignite)
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Left to right: Workshop Co-chairs Ana Hunsinger (Internet2), Inder Monga (ESnet), and Larry Smarr (UCSD/ calit2) get feedback from attendees at the closing of the NRP workshop.             (Photo: Glenn Ricart , US Ignite)

We’re Hiring! Project Manager & Network Engineering Manager


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Did you know that Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), the fastest science network in the world, is seeking an experienced Project Manager or Sr. Project Manager to work on the design and build of an innovative next-generation network? ESnet is located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Learn more about the position and apply here:
https://lbl.referrals.selectminds.com/jobs/esnet-project-manager-sr-project-manager-1006

We are also looking for a network engineering manager to provide leadership for network engineering and operations in support of ESnet’s current network, as well as provide architecture and engineering expertise for the design and build of a next-generation network. Apply here: https://lbl.referrals.selectminds.com/jobs/network-engineering-manager-1031

 

2nd National Research Platform Workshop to Focus on Scaling to a Nationwide Science Data ‘Superhighway’


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Several ESnet staff members helped organize and are participating in the second annual National Research Platform (NRP) workshop. Held August 6-7, 2018, at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, the workshop brings together representatives from more than 100 key institutions who are working to create a nationwide science data network.

Co-sponsored by a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), CENIC, ESnet and Internet2 and hosted by Montana State University, the workshop is designed to identify best strategies for enabling high-performance data transfer via interoperable science DMZs and data transfer nodes at a national scale. The Science DMZ is a secure portion of the network, built at or near the campus or laboratory’s local network perimeter that is tailored to the needs of high performance science applications, including high-volume bulk data transfer, remote experiment control, and data visualization.

The NRP is an outgrowth of the Pacific Research Platform (PRP), an NSF-funded cooperative agreement with UCSD and UC Berkeley formed in 2015 to improve the end-to-end high-speed networking data transfer capabilities in collaborative, big-data science. Today the PRP is a regional “superhighway” linking most of the research universities on the West Coast, as well as partner institutions in other parts of the U.S., via three advanced networks: CENIC’s California Research & Education Network, Pacific Wave and ESnet.

“The PRP is a regional DMZ that is built directly on the DMZ concept developed by DOE/ESnet, and that platform is what we are trying to scale up to the national level,” said Larry Smarr, principal investigator for the PRP, founding director of Calit2 and professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). “The far goal is to have a national research platform based on the DMZ model.”

Smarr and Internet2’s Jim Bottum co-chaired the first NRP workshop, held in August 2017. For the 2018 workshop, Smarr is co-chairing with ESnet Director Inder Monga and Ana Hunsinger, vice president of Community Engagement of Internet2. The community-wide program committee is co-chaired by Marla Meehl, who manages the high-speed network for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and Sherilyn Evans, COO of CENIC, and includes Kate Mace, Jen Leasure, Bottum, Maxine Brown and Wendy Huntoon.

“NRP is designed to bring together the networking practitioners, scientists and larger R&E community to figure out how to build scalable platforms that can make the best use of fast networks for science applications,” said Monga. “DOE and NSF have already invested a lot of effort in building scienceDMZs in national labs, supercomputing centers and universities. The PRP and NRP efforts are a way to build a sustainable, community-supported platform that will be transformational for science in the upcoming decade” The NRP also highlights the long-standing collaborations between NSF and DOE as well as Berkeley Lab and UCSD, he added.

In addition to Monga, Eli Dart, a network engineer in ESnet’s Science Engagement Group, is giving a keynote at the NRP workshop on “Modern Cyberinfrastructure: The Ladder to the Shoulders of Giants.” Mace, a science engagement engineer at ESnet, is participating in a panel session, “Scaling Across the NRP Ecosystem From Campus to Regional to National – What Support Is There?” and chairing another, “International-Scale Measurement Technologies/Techniques.”

With the NRP collaboration still in the prototyping and engineering optimization stage, this year’s workshop will focus on requirements from domain scientists and the networking architecture, policies, tools and security necessary to scale to hundreds of institutions participating in the NRP.

“To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, researchers must get the data they need, where they need it and when they need it,” Smarr said. “This requires a high-performance data freeway system that connects data generators and users of that data. Through the NRP we are investigating what would be necessary to create a national DMZ that would link academic researchers at campuses all over the country.”

Written by Kathy Kincade

 

Berkeley Lab and ESnet Welcome Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange


Today, ESnet and Berkeley Lab staff hosted Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, France’s largest and Europe’s third largest telecommunications operator.

During his visit to Berkeley Lab’s Shyh Wang Hall, Richard toured the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. He also discussed possibilities for potential collaborations in areas of high performance computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning for networks and quantum computing.

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Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO, Orange Télécom, France (left) talks with Berkeley Lab Deputy Director Horst Simon about potential collaborations.                                                       (Photo: Marilyn Chung, Berkeley Lab)
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Stéphane Richard meets with Berkeley Lab staff to discuss potential collaborations.              (Photo: Marilyn Chung, Berkeley Lab)
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ESnet Director Inder Monga (right) shows Stéphane Richard (left) around the NERSC.             (Photo: Marilyn Chung, Berkeley Lab)
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ESnet Director Inder Monga (left) shows Stéphane Richard (right) around NERSC.                  (Photo: Marilyn Chung, Berkeley Lab)

IU, Energy Sciences Network receive $3.5M grant to help researchers accelerate big data sharing


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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The National Science Foundation has awarded Indiana University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Energy Sciences Network a three-year, $3.5 million grant to help scientists more efficiently work with massive datasets that have become essential to modern scientific discovery.

The funding will create EPOC: Engagement and Performance Operations Center as a collaborative focal point jointly led by IU International Networks and ESnet, the U.S. Department of Energy’s high-performance network user facility that serves DOE scientists and their collaborators worldwide. The new center will allow researchers to routinely, reliably, and robustly transfer data through a holistic approach to understanding the full pipeline of data movement — and better support collaborative science.

“At its core, this grant enables scientists and researchers to better collaborate by offering them a kind of ‘support center’ to ensure that data transfers go smoothly,” said Jennifer M. Schopf, principal investigator and director of International Networks at Indiana University. Co-principal investigators on the grant (NSF award #1826994) are David Jent, IU associate vice president of networks, and Jason Zurawski, ESnet science engagement engineer.

“EPOC has the potential to be transformational to science and education by providing not only a depth of understanding to achieve better data transfers but also the human expertise needed to make the most of research collaborations,” Schopf said.

The center will support four main activities:

  • “Roadside assistance” via a coordinated operations center to resolve problems with end-to-end data transfers.
  • Proactive discovery and resolution of performance issues via network analysis services (enabled by the NetSage monitoring suite) and application analysis.
  • Encapsulated Network Services, via support through the IU GlobalNOC and its regional network partners.
  • Coordinated training to enable better use of network tools and science support.

“Scientists in nearly every research domain are seeing data growth from their experiments at an unprecedented rate,” said Inder Monga, ESnet division director. “Last year alone, ESnet delivered 733 petabytes of data to our connected sites. This only accounts for a subset of massive data transfers happening on other research networks around the world. Many large academic institutions and large science collaborations have generous experience in building and operating a solid cyberinfrastructure foundation for supporting a massive data analysis pipeline. EPOC brings this expertise to organizations that might otherwise not be able to effectively participate in this ‘big data’ science revolution.”

ESnet has a longstanding history of science engagement with the broad scientific community; nearly 80 percent of ESnet’s traffic originates from or terminates at universities and other research organizations around the world. ESnet continues its close collaboration with IU as well as the regional partners through this grant to allow the organizations to collectively take these science engagement and outreach efforts to the next level.

“Today’s sophisticated experimental instruments are creating massive datasets for diverse scientific communities and hold the potential for new insights that will have long-lasting impacts on society,” said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

“Scientists, however, can’t make effective use of this data if they are unable to move, store and analyze it. EPOC will help researchers take advantage of today’s advanced networks to quickly and securely share findings with others around the world. Through our targeted partnerships, the center has the potential to benefit nearly all of U.S. science, research and education on a far broader scale than any one organization can accomplish alone,” Wheeler said.

Because researchers at larger educational institutions tend to already have access to advanced networks, the new center will focus on working with small or medium-sized institutions and collaborations that may lack the financial and human resource capacity for more advanced services.

The center will work with regional networks to develop, teach and make available additional materials to these institutions. The initial regional network partners include:

  • The Indiana Network, or I-Light.
  • The Ohio State R&E Network, or OARnet.
  • The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, or KINBER.
  • The Great Plains Network, or GPN.
  • The Texas State R&E Network, or LEARN.
  • The Front Range Gigapop, or FRGP.

Nearly 80 percent of ESnet’s traffic from its connected sites, Department of Energy experimental facilities and supercomputers originates from or terminates at universities and other research organizations around the world. ESnet continues its close collaboration with IU as well as the regional partners through this grant to allow the organizations to collectively take the science engagement and outreach efforts to the next level.

“Scientists in nearly every research domain are seeing data growth from their experiments at an unprecedented rate,” said Inder Monga, ESnet division director. “Last year alone, ESnet delivered 733 petabytes of data to our connected sites. This only accounts for a subset of massive data transfers happening on other research networks around the world. Many large academic institutions and large science collaborations have generous experience in building and operating a solid cyberinfrastructure foundation for supporting a massive data analysis pipeline. EPOC brings this expertise to organizations that might otherwise not be able to effectively participate in this ‘big data’ science revolution.”

To learn more about EPOC and its infrastructure and science community partners, visit epoc.iu.edu.

 

ESnet Site Coordinators Committee Convene in Berkeley


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On May 15, ESnet hosted its twice-a-year site coordinators committee meeting. ESnet Site Coordinators Committee (ESCC) meetings allow representatives from the research and education institutions ESnet serves to stay abreast of plans for the network, offer feedback and share best practices with far-flung colleagues.

Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell welcomed the 23 in-person and nine remote attendees, noting that high-speed networking is critical to the future of scientific collaboration. He also emphasized the importance of ESnet6, the next generation network that recently received a glowing green light from design reviewers.

Berkeley Lab’s Jonathan Ajo-Franklin sparked animated discussion with a presentation about his work using “dark fiber” (unused fiber optic cabling) for seismic sensing. Not only were some sites interested in putting their own dark fiber to use but engineers dug into problems of data mobility presented by Ajo-Franklin’s work.

Benjamin Brown, who manages the ESnet program for the DOE Office of Science, delivered an update from the Hill and led the group in a discussion on governance. ESCC Chair Surya Singh (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and co-chair Susan Hicks (Oakridge National Laboratory) led discussions on subjects ranging from major incident response and communications processes to ScienceDMZ adoption and best practices. Site managers from across the country also shared their own updates.

“The meeting was attended by network engineers from 9 of the 10 DOE Office of Science National Laboratories and all three National Nuclear Security Agency Laboratories. This broad representation allowed us to successfully bring common operational issues at the respective sites to the table and learn best practices from each other,” says Singh.

ESnet also shared the results of its annual user satisfaction survey with attendees.

The ESCC fall meeting will be held concurrently with Internet2’s Tech Exchange meeting in Orlando in October.  An archive of the May 2018 ESCC presentations have been posted here.

 

​Across the North Atlantic for Research and Education


36000774370_2ecc92d538_bAmsterdam, Berkeley, Bloomington, Copenhagen, Ottawa, Utrecht, Washington D.C., April 2018 – Addressing the exponentially growing needs of international science collaborations, connectivity providers for research and education (R&E) continue to find new ways to join forces.

In 2016, a six-party strong collaboration between North American and European R&E network providers secured a record-breaking 640 Gbit/s bandwidth for R&E across the North Atlantic. This alliance has now strengthened its cooperation to bring even more bandwidth, resiliency, and redundancy to networking for research and education, supporting global research collaborations that are advancing knowledge to help solve our most pressing problems.

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A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the partners involved in the Advanced North Atlantic (ANA) collaboration (CANARIE, ESnet, GÉANT, Internet2, NORDUnet, and SURF) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Networks for European, American, and African Research (NEAAR) Project. The MoU paves the way for a future cooperative partnership offering a combined capability to the R&E community that far exceeds what any single organization can provide. The collaboration is based on capacity sharing, reciprocal backup agreements, and joint operations of high-speed 100 Gbit/s interconnects through Global R&E Exchange Points (GXPs). Moreover, with the additional NEAAR link now available, the transatlantic R&E bandwidth has risen to 800 Gbit/s, with the new link further strengthening its resilience.The MoU between the ANA collaboration and the NEAAR Project takes global collaboration in R&E networking to a new and unprecedented level of interaction and resource sharing, in order to meet the international R&E community’s increasing need for high-speed global network connectivity.

The partners

The Advanced North Atlantic (ANA) collaboration started in 2012 as a technology project to challenge the market to deliver 100 Gbit/s trans-Atlantic circuits. Since then, it has grown into a strong collaboration between six R&E networking organizations from North America (CANARIE, ESnet, and Internet2) and Europe (GÉANT, NORDUnet, and SURF), with a steering group and working groups on operations, technology, cost sharing and legal.The NEAAR Project is a cross-organizational initiative providing services and bandwidth to connect researchers within the United States with their counterparts in Europe and Africa. Indiana University jointly leads the NEAAR collaboration with GÉANT, the European research and education network (REN), and with the African regional RENs. In addition to a 100 Gbit/s lambda between the United States and Europe, the NEAAR Project facilitates science engagement with researchers throughout Europe and Africa.

New level of collaboration

The ANA collaboration has inspired similar initiatives in other regions. Looking to the future, the ANA collaboration aims to inspire more intercontinental collaborations and will work with the telecommunications industry to create powerful, resilient and sustainable intercontinental transmission systems for research and education.

Howard Pfeffer, President and CEO, Internet2: “We believe collaboration has been, and will continue to be, the core mission of supporting global research and education. All the partners involved in this collaboration continue to demonstrate their unique ability to work collectively toward a shared vision. Internet2 looks forward to continuing this global effort in support of advancing knowledge and scholarship.”

René Buch, CEO, NORDUnet: “Collaboration through projects like ANA is the cornerstone in the creation of a global R&E infrastructure. Joining resources both financially and organizationally is the only viable way forward for the NRENs to provide researchers and students with a global infrastructure that has sufficient bandwidth and reach to support research and education, not only today but also in the future. NORDUnet has a strong commitment to this common goal and is investing significant resources facilitating this paradigm on a global scale.”

Inder Monga, Executive Director, ESnet: “This private-public collaboration has been exemplary in proving how multiple partners, in different countries, can work toward the common good for the science, research and education community. We welcome NEAAR as ANA’s new partner and continued collaborative efforts on science engagement across continents.”

Erwin Bleumink, Member, SURF Board: “Research and educational institutions are increasingly using large research facilities, educational content, and e-infrastructure services delivered by providers or fellow institutions all over the world. It is essential to ensure that our network is connected to the rest of the world. Therefore, we’re proud to work with our global partners to design and deliver a Global Network Architecture. The MoU between ANA and NEAAR show that the principles defined in this architecture lead to successful collaborations.”

Jim Ghadbane, President and CEO, CANARIE: “We are strong proponents of the power of collaborations to build and evolve the network infrastructure that enables global multidisciplinary research and innovation. We look forward to continuing to strengthen this partnership and to applying its principles to future collaborations.”

Erik Huizer, CEO, GÉANT: “The ANA collaboration is a prime example of how international research networks collaborate and share resources to obtain the best possible performance for research and education. GÉANT is proud to be part of that collaboration which delivers unprecedented data capacity to the European research and education community. We are very pleased to be part of the collaborative model of sharing capacity and increasing resilience through reciprocal back-up agreements which further strengthen GÉANT´s global reach. We welcome NEAAR as ANA´s new MoU partner.”

Jennifer Schopf, Principal Investigator, NEAAR Project: “We are pleased to be the latest partner in this wide-reaching collaboration. It is through partnerships and collaborations that we can best support R&E end users efficiently and reliably. We look forward to being a part of this team of community leaders.”

Global Collaboration:

The global ecosystem of Research & Education Networks has brought forward a number of initiatives that emphasizes the way these networks work together. Two prominent ones are:

 

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.”