Overview of the Network

A Nationwide Platform for Science Discovery

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is a high-performance, unclassified national network built to support scientific research. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (SC) and managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides services to more than 40 DOE research sites, including the entire National Laboratory system, its supercomputing facilities, and its major scientific instruments. ESnet also connects to 140 research and commercial networks, permitting DOE-funded scientists to productively collaborate with partners around the world.
A Robust Network for Next-Gen Science
Spurred by the growth of large international collaborations in high energy physics, climate science, and soon, genomics, the research community’s needs to manage and transfer large quantities of data are exploding in scope and complexity. Currently ESnet carries around 20 petabytes of data monthly. The level of traffic over the ESnet network has increased an average of 10 times every 4 years, propelled by the rising tide of data produced by more powerful supercomputers, global collaborations that can involve thousands of researchers, and specialized facilities like the Large Hadron Collider and digital sky surveys.  It’s expected that ESnet will need to carry over 100 petabytes of data per month by 2016.

The Fifth Generation of ESnet
In 2009, ESnet received $62 million in American Research and Recovery Act (ARRA) funding from the Department of Energy Office of Science to invest in its next-generation infrastructure to provide the necessary support for research discovery in this new era of data-intensive science.

After three years of planning and deployment, ESnet5 – ESnet’s fifth generation network – launched in November 2012. The network was built in collaboration with Internet2, an advanced network, which connects the nation’s research universities. Leveraging its Recovery Act grant from the Department of Commerce, Internet2 and ESnet pooled its stimulus resources together to deploy a massive 8.8 Terabit network built using Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform which the two organizations will equally share to serve their respective communities.  To create the routing platform, ESnet deployed the Alcatel-Lucent 7750 Service Router. The new network provides an immediate tenfold increase in bandwidth to DOE research sites at the same cost as providing 10G connections – with the ability to now scale to 44 times the current capacity. 

A 100Gbps Reconfigurable Testbed
In addition to its production ESnet5 network, ESnet has also created a national-scale network testbed, available to researchers and industry for experiments with new network technologies, protocols, and applications at 100 Gbps. The testbed supports research including multi-layer multi-domain hybrid networks, network protocols, component testing for future capabilities, protection and recovery, automatic classification of large bulk data flows, high-throughput middleware and applications, and as well as other innovative networking experiments. ESnet accepts new proposals to use the testbed every six months.

Dark Fiber Testbed
ESnet purchased almost 13,000 miles of dark fiber from a commercial carrier for DOE use. By creating a research testbed and lighting the dark fiber with optical gear, ESnet will enable network researchers to safely experiment with disruptive techologies that will make up the next generation Internet in a production-like environment at 100 Gbps speeds.