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New perfSONAR Release Offers More Network Measurement Data, Increased Security

Jason Zurawski and Brian Tierney of ESnet's perfSONAR team.

October 22, 2014

Contact: Jon Bashor, [email protected], 510-486-5849

Since it was first released about five years ago, the perfSONAR network measurement toolkit has provided the research and education networking community with tools for end-to-end monitoring and troubleshooting of multi-domain network performance. And over the years, this ability to diagnose network problems has become increasingly important as research is increasingly collaborative and dependent on sharing large data sets.

The latest release of perfSONAR, version 3.4, gives network engineers access to more data about network performance as well as increased security protections. The new version will be discussed in a session called “perfSONAR 3.4: Not Just another Incremental Update” at the Technical Exchange conference being held from Oct. 19-25 in Indianapolis. perfSONAR is developed by a collaboration between the Department of Energy’s ESnet, Internet2, Indiana University and GEANT, the pan-European research network.

perfSONAR provides network engineers with the ability to test and measure network performance, as well as to archive data in order to pinpoint and solve performance problems that may span multiple networks and international boundaries.

Among the improvements in the latest version is the ability to overlay different kinds of measurement data from a network, such as bandwidth over time and latency, the amount of time data takes to move across the network. Previously, each measurement was presented in a separate graph, which meant users had to flip back and forth to get the big picture. Similarly, the previous version only showed data on a day-by-day basis, but the new version can present measurements over days, weeks or months.

“This makes it much easier to answer questions like, ‘Did this packet loss just start yesterday or has it been going on for awhile?’,” said Brian Tierney, an ESnet network engineer who works on perfSONAR. “That allows us to identify and correct problems much more quickly.”

perfSONAR 3.4 also includes a number of security enhancements, including the option for automatic updates by default for all new and existing installations. The software is currently used by about 300 different network domains and installed at 1,200 network nodes. “These security improvements will give the perfSONAR nodes more spines and help them protect themselves better,” said Jason Zurawski, another member of ESnet’s Science Engagement team.

iperf3, a new ESnet-developed network test tool, is now the default throughput test in perfSONAR 3.4. A big advantage of iperf3 over the previous tool (iperf) is that it reports the number of packets retransmitted during a test. Packet retransmit count is a useful debugging tool and helps determine the type of network problem.

For more information:
Read the new documentation at: http://docs.perfsonar.net
Read the much more detailed release notes at: http://www.perfsonar.net/release-notes/version-3-4/