Science DMZ-Based Big-Science Pacific Research Platform Debuts at CENIC 2015 Annual Conference

Fast Data Transfer Architecture Developed by ESnet, NERSC is Basis for System Linking Califorina Research Institutions

March 9, 2015

Contact: Janis Cortese (CENIC),, 714-220-3454;
Jon Bashor (ESnet),, 510-486-5849

LA MIRADA and BERKELEY, CA – Attendees at the CENIC 2015 Annual Conference, “Shaking Things Up,” will be introduced to the Pacific Research Platform, a cutting-edge research infrastructure which will link together the Science DMZs of dozens of top research institutions via three advanced networks: CENIC’s California Research & Education Network (CalREN), the Department of Energy’s Energy Science Network (ESnet), and Pacific Wave.  At a panel discussion during the conference, initial results will be announced for the first time by Eli Dart (ESnet), John Haskins (UC Santa Cruz), John Hess (CENIC), Erik McCroskey (UC Berkeley), Paul Murray (Stanford), Larry Smarr (Calit2), and Michael van Norman (UCLA).  The presentation will be live-streamed at 4:20 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, March 9, and can be watched for free at

Science DMZs are designed to create secure network enclaves for data-intensive science and high-speed data transport. This regional research platform will interconnect many campuses' dedicated research networks to create a secure, seamless fabric that maximizes end-to-end performance and ease of use, and minimizes administrative difficulty.

“CENIC designed CalREN to have a separate network tier reserved for data-intensive research from the beginning, and the development of the Science DMZ concept by ESnet has enabled that to reach into individual laboratories, linking them together into a single advanced statewide fabric for big-science innovation,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox.  “Of course, CENIC itself also functions as a way to create a fabric of innovation by bringing researchers together to share ideas, making the timing of this announcement at our annual conference just right.”

The Science DMZ design was developed by the networking and supercomputing facilities at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (ESnet and NERSC).  By separating high-performance science networks (Science DMZs) from general-purpose campus network infrastructures, each part of the network can be optimized for a specific purpose without interfering with the other. General purpose network and security components frequently cause bottlenecks for scientists working in disciplines that require high-speed data transfer, such as climate research, biomedical “omics” research (genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics), astronomy, and high-energy physics.  And thanks to the reliability of today’s advanced networks, the list of big-data sciences is growing to include the humanities and social sciences as well, as in the case of digital high-definition cinema production and the creation of virtual reality “copies” of remote and unique archaeological treasures.

However, nearly all of today’s research in an ever-growing list of disciplines involves remote collaboration – thus the need to link together individual institutions’ isolated Science DMZs into one large, seamless research platform that enables colleagues worldwide to collaborate while not losing any of the advantages of a network architecture specially optimized for the unique needs of big-data research.

Using the open-source perfSONAR toolkit and MaDDash visualization tool, a mesh of performance measurement instances was created over the past two months among institutions participating in the Pacific Research Platform, which currently includes Caltech, CENIC, ESnet, NASA Ames Research Center and the NASA Research and Engineering Network (NREN), San Diego State University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, USC, and the University of Washington.

A separate mesh of data-transfer nodes (DTNs) was also created among a subset of these institutions using a variety of data transfer protocols the two meshes giving researchers the ability to transfer large amounts of data between individual Science DMZs while also giving them the insight they need into the state of the network at a given time.

“The Pacific Research Platform forms an appropriately designed digital fabric to support a wide variety of multi-institutional Big Data science and engineering projects.  CENIC 2015 has become the catalyst for demonstrating that this vision is capable of being realized,” said Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership and the Harry E. Gruber Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego.

“The most exciting part of this DMZ-building expedition so far has been watching the ESnet MaDDAsh DMZ performance-monitoring visualization boxes light up day by day, literally greening up, showing institutions coming online and transferring data disk-to-disk at speeds up to 37Gb/s,” said Tom DeFanti, Research Scientist at Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego.

“Guy Almes of Texas A&M has pointed out that Metcalf's Law of network effects applies to the Science DMZs that are being deployed by labs and universities,” said ESnet Network Engineer Eli Dart, citing the law that any communications network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of connected users. “We know from past experience that, in a networked world, the whole is not only greater than the sum of the parts, it is qualitatively different.  The Pacific Research Platform is a bold initiative to explicitly harness the amplified power of networked resources and channel it to transform the way science is done throughout California, and beyond.”

ESnet Director Gregory Bell agrees. “At their best, advanced networks change our perspective about what is possible, and this CENIC collaboration is an inspiring case in point: campuses are thinking more regionally, they are sharing information and coordinating goals, and they are collaborating to produce better science outcomes. This is good news - and a strong example - for our nation's research and discovery infrastructure."

Connectivity to the Pacific Research Platform is also shortly anticipated for UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, UC Merced, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, StarLight/Northwestern University, Montana State University, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

About CENIC •

CENIC connects California to the world—advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration and economic growth. The nonprofit organization operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.



The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is a high-performance, unclassified 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.


About Pacific

Pacific Wave is a state-of-the-art international peering exchange facility designed to serve research and education networks throughout the Pacific Rim and the world. Pacific Wave enhances research and education network capabilities by increasing network efficiency, reducing latency, increasing throughput, and reducing costs. Pacific Wave is a joint project between CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, and the Pacific Northwest Gigapop, and is operated in collaboration with the University of Southern California and the University of Washington.