DOE Network Researchers Get a Consistent View with New perfSONAR Network Monitoring

January 25, 2006

In collaboration with GEANT2 and Internet2 networks, ESnet has released the first working prototype of a new network monitoring architecture, provisionally named perfSONAR. The prototype is now providing information on link capacity and link utilization across the circuits of the Abilene, ESnet, GEANT, UNINETT, and SWITCH backbone networks. Access is being provided initially to a restricted group, but with the intention of enabling more widespread access once the tool is stable and proven.

The prototype represents a real breakthrough for monitoring across complex networks like ESnet — this is the first time that data from disparate network locations has been made available in a consistent manner. Until now, monitoring data has been presented in different ways depending on where in the networks it was collected from, requiring network managers to use different tools for each network from which they needed to collect monitoring data.

If successful, the prototype service will establish a new seamless monitoring method that wipes out such differences between interconnected networks, enabling a true end-to-end view of network performance.

The positive impact of this new development is already being felt by the EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-SciencE) project, which is participating in the prototype phase. EGEE is receiving data through the perfSONAR interface for analysis by its own prototype diagnostic tool. This will allow the EGEE project to make decisions about network use based on the amount of available bandwidth between its participating sites, and to troubleshoot data transfer problems more easily.

The development of the prototype has been made possible by close cooperation with research teams in Europe and North America. Engineers at ESnet, Internet2, GEANT, Cesnet, DANTE, DFN, FCCN, GRNet, PSNC, Nordunet, Renater and RedIRIS have been part of the systems development, and some are also deploying the system on their own networks. This means that networks on both continents are presenting the same data in a consistent manner. This cooperation represents a step towards a seamless end-to-end measurement service across the major research networks in the U.S. and Europe.