William Johnston

William (Bill) E. Johnston
Senior Advisor

Bill Johnston served as ESnet Department Head from Oct. 2003 to Oct. 2008, when he retired.  During his tenure Johnston led the effort to develop a new network, ESnet4, to accommodate massive scientific data flows of petabytes/year from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN to several ESnet sites for storage and processing and then to multiple universities for analysis.  Johnston’s long time research interests included high-speed, wide area network based, distributed systems, widely distributed computational and data "Grids," public-key Infrastructure based security and authorization systems, and use of the global Internet to enable remote access to scientific, analytical, and medical instrumentation. Johnston established the Distributed Systems Department, serving as department head for several years, as well as working as PI for several DOE Office of Science projects related to the application of computing in science environments, as well as several early high-speed network testbeds including the DARPA-funded MAGIC project.  Johnston also co-founded the Grid Forum, the precursor to today’s Open Grid Forum.  Johnston has worked in the field of computing and its support of the classical sciences for 40 years. He has taught computer science at the under graduate and graduate levels. He has a M.S. in mathematics and physics from San Francisco State University. For more information see

Journal Articles

Inder Monga, Chin Guok, William E. Johnston, and Brian Tierney, “Hybrid Networks: Lessons Learned and Future Challenges Based on ESnet4 Experience”, IEEE Communications Magazine, May 1, 2011,

William E Johnston, “ESnet: Advanced Networking for Science”, SciDAC Review, July 1, 2007,

William Johnston, “The Advanced Networks and Services Underpinning Modern, Large-Scale Science”, SciDAC Review Paper, May 1, 2007,

Conference Papers

William E. Johnston, Eli Dart, Michael Ernst, Brian Tierney, “Enabling high throughput in widely distributed data management and analysis systems: Lessons from the LHC”, TERENA Networking Conference, June 3, 2013,

Chin Guok, David Robertson, Mary Thompson, Jason Lee, Brian Tierney and William Johnston, “Intra and Interdomain Circuit Provisioning Using the OSCARS Reservation System”, Third International Conference on Broadband Communications Networks, and Systems, IEEE/ICST, October 1, 2006,

Book Chapters

William Johnston, Evangelos Chaniotakis, Eli Dart, Chin Guok, Joe Metzger, Brian Tierney, “The Evolution of Research and Education Networks and their Essential Role in Modern Science”, Trends in High Performance & Large Scale Computing, ( November 1, 2008)

Published in: "Trends in High Performance & Large Scale Computing" Lucio Grandinetti and Gerhard Joubert, Editors

William Johnston, Joe Metzger, Mike O'Connor, Michael Collins, Joseph Burrescia, Eli Dart, Jim Gagliardi, Chin Guok, Kevin Oberman, “Network Communication as a Service-Oriented Capability”, High Performance Computing and Grids in Action, Volume 16, Advances in Parallel Computing, ( March 1, 2008)

In widely distributed systems generally, and in science-oriented Grids in particular, software, CPU time, storage, etc., are treated as “services” – they can be allocated and used with service guarantees that allows them to be integrated into systems that perform complex tasks. Network communication is currently not a service – it is provided, in general, as a “best effort” capability with no guarantees and only statistical predictability.

In order for Grids (and most types of systems with widely distributed components) to be successful in performing the sustained, complex tasks of large-scale science – e.g., the multi-disciplinary simulation of next generation climate modeling and management and analysis of the petabytes of data that will come from the next generation of scientific instrument (which is very soon for the LHC at CERN) – networks must provide communication capability that is service-oriented: That is it must be configurable, schedulable, predictable, and reliable. In order to accomplish this, the research and education network community is undertaking a strategy that involves changes in network architecture to support multiple classes of service; development and deployment of service-oriented communication services, and; monitoring and reporting in a form that is directly useful to the application-oriented system so that it may adapt to communications failures.

In this paper we describe ESnet's approach to each of these – an approach that is part of an international community effort to have intra-distributed system communication be based on a service-oriented capability.


Bill Johnston, Addressing the Problem of Data Mobility for Data-Intensive Science: Lessons Learned from the data analysis and data management systems of the LHC, The Third International Conference on Parallel, Distributed, Grid and Cloud Computing for Engineering, March 2013,

Bill Johnston, Eli Dart, and Brian Tierney, Addressing the Problem of Data Mobility for Data-Intensive Science: Lessons Learned from the data analysis and data management systems of the LHC, ECT2012: The Eighth International Conference on Engineering Computational Technology, September 2012,

Bill Johnston, Eli Dart, and Brian Tierney, Addressing the Problem of Data Mobility for Data-Intensive Science: Lessons Learned from the data analysis and data management systems of the LHC, ARNES: The Academic and Research Network of Slovenia, August 2012,

Bill Johnston, Evolution of R&E Networks to Enable LHC Science, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) and Italian Research & Education Network network (GARR) joint meeting, May 2012,

Bill Johnston, Some ESnet Observations on Using and Managing OSCARS Point-to-Point Circuit, LHCONE / LHCOPN meeting, May 2012,

Bill Johnston and Eli Dart, The Square Kilometer Array: A next generation scientific instrument and its implications for networks (and possible lessons from the LHC experience), TERENA Networking Conference 2012, May 2012,

Bill Johnston and Eli Dart, Design Patterns for Data-Intensive Science--LHC lessons and SKA, Pawsey Supercomputer Center User Meeting, February 2012,

William E. Johnston, Motivation, Design, Deployment and Evolution of a Guaranteed Bandwidth Network Service, TERENA Networking Conference, 16 - 19 May, 2011, Prague, Czech Republic, May 16, 2011,

William E Johnston, Progress in Integrating Networks with Service Oriented Architectures / Grids. The Evolution of ESnet's Guaranteed Bandwidth Service, Cracow ’09 Grid Workshop, October 12, 2009,

William Johnston, Energy Sciences Network Enabling Virtual Science, TERENA Conference, Malaga, Spain, July 9, 2009,

William E Johnston, The Evolution of Research and Education Networks and their Essential Role in Modern Science, TERENA Conference, Malaga, Spain, June 9, 2009,

Chin Guok, David Robertson, Evangelos Chaniotakis, Mary Thompson, William Johnston, Brian Tierney, A User Driven Dynamic Circuit Network Implementation, IEEE DANMS 2008, November 2008,

William Johnston, ESnet Planning, Status, and Future Issues, ASCAC Meeting, August 1, 2008,

William E Johnston, ESnet4: Networking for the Future of DOE Science, Office of Science, Science Programs Requirements Workshops: Nuclear Physics, May 1, 2008,

William E Johnston, ESnet4 - Networking for the Future of DOE Science: High Energy Physics / LHC Networking, ON Vector (ON*Vector) Workshop
, February 26, 2007,


“DOE Science Networking Challenge: Roadmap to 2008 - Report of the June 3-5, 2003, DOE Science Networking Workshop”, DOE Science Networking Workshop, June 3, 2003,

Report of the June 3-5, 2003, DOE Science Networking Workshop Conducted by the Energy Sciences Network Steering Committee at the request of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Workshop Chair Roy Whitney;  Working Group Chairs: Wu-chun Feng, William Johnston, Nagi Rao, David Schissel, Vicky White, Dean Williams; Workshop Support: Sandra Klepec, Edward May; Report Editors: Roy Whitney, Larry Price; Energy Sciences Network Steering Committee: Larry Price; Chair: Charles Catlett, Greg Chartrand, Al Geist, Martin Greenwald, James Leighton, Raymond McCord, Richard Mount, Jeff Nichols, T.P. Straatsma, Alan Turnbull, Chip Watson, William Wing, Nestor Zaluzec.