Soon after John Paul Jones moved from Idaho to California in 1983, he and his wife visited the Berkeley Hat Company, where he bought a royal blue beret. Since then, during his 33+ years at Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national labs, the flat blue hat has become part of Jones’ persona.
But when he retires from ESnet at the end of June 2017, Jones said he may also think about hanging up that hat. Around the house, he said, he usually wears his blue and gold Golden State Warriors cap.
In 1995, the Department of Energy made the decision to move ESnet and NERSC from Livermore to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Jones knew people who were part of the ESnet team at Livermore and it piqued his interest when ESnet’s then-manager Jim Leighton called him in to talk about joining the group.
“He unrolled this big network map and showed it to me,” Jones recalled. “I said, ‘What!? Oh yeah – I am definitely in!’”
When ESnet made the move in 1996, Jones joined the group that configured, installed, maintained and did troubleshooting on the routers that powered the national network.
As he prepares to retire this month after more than 28 years at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Brian Tierney, head of ESnet’s Advanced Network Technologies Group, still remembers the exact moment when he knew where his career path would lead.
“I met Bill Johnston at San Francisco State and on the very first day of his Computer Graphics class, he told us ‘Anybody who gets and A in my class gets an internship in my group,’” Tierney recalled. “A light bulb went off and I knew I was going to get an A. I literally thought “That’s what I might do for the next 30 years.’”
He started in Johnston’s Graphics Group as a graduate student assistant in 1988 and a year later Tierney had become a career staff member.
Among the key projects Tierney has either contributed to are perfSONAR, the network performance toolkit, and fasterdata.es.net, a collection of tips and tools for, well, faster data transfers.
Ten students from the IT Academy at Richmond’s Kennedy High School spent the first week of their summer vacation getting hands-on experience in high-speed networking and getting first-hand advice on planning their future.
The students and IT Academy lead teacher LaRue Moore participated in the June 12-16 pilot workshop introducing them to networking for science. The five-day workshop include a 30-minute instructional presentations followed by 30 minutes of hands-on work, a sequence developed by Sowmya Balasubramanian of ESnet. Topics included configuring IP addresses, tracing packets, assessing network performance and locating bottlenecks.
On the last day, students were given the assignment: You are a network administrator. You have five Raspberry Pis that serve as data transfer nodes. They are connected to a switch that can process at 1000 megabits/second. The Raspberry Pi themselves can transfer at 100 megabits/second. A user wants to use one of the data transfer nodes and has approached you for help in finding the best node. You need to run tests to find which is the best node.
Working in teams, the students measured the round-trip time for each node and then balance speed against packet loss to determine which performed best. Students then presented their findings to the group, as they would make a recommendation to an IT expert.
“This was extremely valuable for our students and now I want to see how we can scale it up to 40 students,” Moore said. “This week has given them both more knowledge and more confidence.”