New OSCARS Circuits Provisioning Service Featured at Conference

November 21, 2007

 ESnet and its network partners from the United States and Europe treated SC07 attendees with demonstrations of the next-generation science network and services that provide a more responsive and faster transfer of scientific data across many domains.

The supercomputing conference demonstrations, splashed across large screens at the Internet2 booth, showed gigabytes of data moving among various national labs and universities in real time. The real time – and  historical – network traffic data on screen offered a good look at a new service that enables scientists to request uncontested bandwidth for sending large amount of data across networks and countries.

The demonstration showcased ESnet’s On-Demand Secure Circuits and Advance Reservation System (OSCARS) along with corresponding collaborative projects, which allow scientists to request bandwidths dedicated to moving a large amount of data – up to terabytes at a time – across several domains. Implemented on ESnet’s Science Data Network and Internet2’s Dynamic Circuit Network, the service will be key for carrying out experiments and enabling computational science that transfer a tremendous amount of data. For example, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva will begin producing petabytes of high-energy physics data and send them to national labs and other U.S. research centers starting in mid-2008. 

“What makes this so interesting is it’s done over production networks. It’s not a canned set up,” said Chin Guok, an ESnet engineer who is in charge of developing OSCARS. “We developed the software interface for anyone who wants to uses it, so that they can communicate with ESnet.”

The software protocol has been adopted by many regional and national networks to ensure that they can communicate with each other in making bandwidth requests and setting aside circuits. These partner networks and research centers worked intensely to implement the protocol and test how well their software interacts in order to demonstrate the service at SC07 in Reno.

The research institutions that adopted the protocol in their software include DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory, both of which will receive LHC data from CERN and distribute them to other research institutions in the country. The demonstrations at SC involved transferring data between multiple starting points and destinations. They included data movement between Fermi Laboratory and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln; Brookhaven Laboratory and Boston University; Brookhaven Laboratory and the University of Michigan; and HEAnet in Ireland and the Internet2 booth at the conference. 

The partner networks that jointly developed and incorporated the protocol include the pan-European research and education network, GEANT2; HEAnet in Ireland, GRNET in Greece, the PIONER network in Poland, an European Union project on testing optical networking called Phosphorous at the University of Amsterdam and Internet2. Internet2, a consortium of U.S. education and research institutions, is a key partner for ESnet in building ESnet4, a long-term project currently underway to set up a national network capable of transferring hundreds of gigabits per second in the next five years.

Currently, ESnet has just placed into production a national IP ring of 10-Gbps circuits and is working on completing the Science Data Network, another coast-to-coast network that will scale to multiple 10-Gbps rings in the next few years.

The circuit setup software interoperability extends beyond networks se-ving universities and government-funded research centers. Telecom giant Nortel, which participated in the dynamic circuits demonstration, is the first vendor to implement the protocol in its software.     

ESnet began developing OSCARS in 2005, after DOE’s Office of Science held a workshop that identified a critical need for a more efficient service to ensure the timely delivery of large and time sensitive data. A couple dozen scientists from research centers and industry have been participating in the test deployment of the service to provide feedback. A full deployment is scheduled for later next year, Guok said.

Guok gave a talk about OSCARS at the Berkeley Lab booth during the conference. He also served at the Internet2 booth to explain the various technical demonstrations.