Three questions with a new staff member! Please meet Rémy Doucet

Rémy comes to us from ByteDance/TikTok where they worked as a Systems Engineer responsible for large-scale server allocation and bare-metal OS deployment.  They have worked as a systems engineer for five years, with experience both in the Telecom industry and for large social media companies.  Rémy began their career as a software developer in Python but shifted when they realized a passion for infrastructure and systems.  

Rémy Doucet

What brought you to ESnet?

I have a long history of activism and also worked in the nonprofit sector prior to my engineering career. I became dissatisfied working only for social media giants and began seeking a career that married my passion for technology with my drive to make a positive impact on the world. Climate change is the most pressing issue humans are facing today, so I am excited to begin contributing to a place that not only has an impressive legacy of scientific discovery, but is continuing to make strides in areas such as renewable and clean energy.

What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

Although it is not exactly under my purview, I have always been fascinated by artificial intelligence. Not only will it continue to transform our society in unimaginable ways, but I am also curious to see how it will come to be used for systems administration tasks such as monitoring and deployment. Currently, these processes are still largely human and automation driven but I think we will start to see more AI incorporated into the process in the future. For my personal interests, I enjoy experiencing art or music created by AI.

What book would you recommend?

Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. It is a philosophical treatise that I think will become increasingly relevant in our society.

3 Questions with Jeremy Randolph

Please meet Jeremy Randolph, the newest software engineer in ESnet’s Software Measurement and Analysis Group!

Jeremy Randolph

Jeremy has an extensive background in distributed systems, working for companies like DataDog, Fitbit, and Google, to build resilient backends to power customer data visualization and real user interactions. Before that, he also worked in the video game industry at 2K Sports, LucasArts, “The Force Unleashed” franchise, and number of other sports titles.   

What brought you to ESnet?

Recently, I’ve been spending chunks of my free time watching math and physics channels. I’ve also tried some publicly available lecture series with varying degrees of success. In the recent past, working on distributed systems has been rewarding, but I’ve never felt passionate about the wider mission statement of the various companies I’ve worked at. I see ESnet as a chance to build interesting systems while also contributing to our scientific understanding of the universe.

What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

The slow, but steady migration to cloud-based environments and virtual systems. Software Engineers tell horror stories about how our vocation used to have to write our programs on punch cards and would get the program’s output the next day (including things like syntax errors). Real-time syntax highlighting of compile errors in my  IDE (integrated development environment) allows me to focus on the bigger picture and more complicated systems. I suspect the next generation of software engineers will also tell horror stories about DevOps and how we had to have intimate knowledge about what hardware our code was running on and where specifically in the world it was running.

What book would you recommend?

Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke. 

ESnet History on (virtual) Display

As part of LBL’s The Next 90 campaign, new features on the past, present and future of the Computing Sciences Area (CSA) and ESnet have just been released!

From the first documented demonstration of 10 gigabit Ethernet in 2002….

For a vision of where we, and all of CSA, started back in the 1990s, including a video of early ESnet telecommuting experiments well before Zoom, please see this link.

For an overview of CSA with Jonathan Carter, please see this link.

The ESnet interactive timeline has also been updated — the story continues!

3 Questions with Katrina Turner

Three questions with a new staff member! Aloha, Katrina!

Katrina hails from Kāne’ohe, Hawai’i where she was born and raised. She recently graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa with an M.S. in Computer Science and is now with ESnet’s Software Engineering Management and Analysis Group.  Katrina loves her island life and enjoys dancing hula, hiking, and going to the beach.  She also loves both playing and making video games in her spare time.

Katrina Turner

What brought you to ESnet?

During my time as a Research Assistant at UH Mānoa, I had the opportunity to work with some of ESnet’s team members and I really admired both the work they did as well as the work culture they were a part of.  When I heard there were openings at ESnet, I jumped at the chance to continue working with such awesome people!

What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

In recent years, Data Visualization has become more popular with the general public, being shared through social media and used by the masses instead of only scientists and analysts.  As a result, we are seeing really creative and interesting ways of showing data beyond the standard charts.  Also, the integration of machine learning to allow us to easily visualize large amounts of data is really exciting.

What book would you recommend?

If you like Fantasy Fiction, the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is great, but definitely a time commitment. I also just started reading The Windup Girl.

Fatema Bannat Wala named Zeek Community Champion!

Fatema Bannat Wala

Fatema Bannat Wala with our Cyber Security team was recognized with the 2021 Zeek Community Champion award by Corelight! More information on the award and her work with Zeek can be found here.

Zeek is an open source network security monitoring software extensively used by ESnet. Zeek (formally called Bro) was initially developed by researchers at Berkeley Lab, and more information on ESnet’s use of Zeek can be found in Fatema’s October Light Bytes post.

CONGRATULATIONS, Fatema!

Three Questions with a new staff member: John Amerkhanian

Please meet our newest Network Operations Center Engineer, John Amerkhanian. John comes to us from Richmond, CA, and grew up locally in Albany, CA. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in Political Science.

What brought you to ESnet?

As a kid growing up in the Berkeley area, you always heard about how there is exciting research happening in the LBNL buildings up on the hill. When my friend got a job with ESnet in 2016, I knew I’d like to join them there someday. I’m very excited to support some of the best energy researchers in the world and can’t wait to see how they’re improving the ways we produce, consume, and store energy. 

What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

Without a doubt it’s the leaps and bounds made in computer processor development, these days you can get a processor that is a fraction of the size of a Pentium 4 with nearly double the processing power and very low energy usage. The computing applications for these processors in my field are very exciting.

What book would you recommend?

Steve Wozniak’s autobiography “iWoz”

Three questions with a new staff member –James Kafader with Software Engineering.

Please welcome James Kafader to ESnet! James comes to us from Internet Archive (IA), where he worked on the Archive-It team, which develops and maintains a turnkey archiving platform. Archive-It partners with external institutions and national libraries to capture data on their behalf. It is essentially the project incubator at IA and focused on high-quality and large-scale archiving. The data collected by Archive-It represents about 30% of the available captures in the global wayback machine.

Question 1: What brought you to ESnet?

In 2020, I spent a lot of time thinking about the interconnectedness of natural systems, and how they relate to the earth’s climate. It strikes me that it’s imperative, as a planet and nation, to focus on reducing the impact of climate change in short order. This line of thinking led me to dedicate my time to science, which could have a positive impact on the global climate.

Question 2: What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

This is a good question. I consider myself very much a generalist in terms of how I approach software development, as well as in my overall view of reality. My view of computational systems is very conservative as well — I like to understand the algorithms involved with any new technology as intimately as possible before selecting it for use. I’d say in many ways that the most exciting thing going on in my field is renewed interest in how large-scale systems affect equitability for their participants; that is, how the networks, systems, and structures that we build affect outcomes for each of us.

Question 3: What book would you recommend?

I recently read Breath by James Nestor. It was an engaging read and helped a lot with my mood and stability, if not the most scientifically accurate thing I’ve ever read. Another favorite is Difficult Conversations by Sheila Heen, Douglas Stone, and Bruce Patton.

Creating the Tokamak Superfacility: Fusion with the ScienceDMZ

5.5 Questions with Eli Dart (ESnet), C.S. Chang, and Michael Churchill (PPPL)

In 2025, when the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) generates “first plasma”, it will be the culmination of almost 40 years of effort.  First started in 1985, the project has grown to include the scientific talents of seven members (China, EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the US, with EU membership bringing the total to 35 countries) and if successful, will mark the first time that a large scale fusion reactor generates more thermal power than is used to heat isotopes of hydrogen gas to a plasma state.

ESnet is supporting this international scientific community as this dream of limitless, clean energy is pursued. When operational at full capacity, ITER will generate approximately a petabyte-per-day of data, much of which will need to be analyzed and fed back in near real-time to optimize the fusion reaction and manage distribution of data to a federated framework of geographically distributed “remote control rooms” or RCR.  To prepare for this demanding ability to distribute both data and analytics, recently ESnet’s Eli Dart and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s (PPPL) Michael Churchill and  C.S. Chang were co-authors on a test exercise performed with collaborators at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), PPPL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and with the Korean KREONET, KSTAR, National Fusion Research Institute, and the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. This study (https://doi.org/10.1080/15361055.2020.1851073) successfully demonstrated the use of ESnet and the ScienceDMZ architecture as part of trans-Pacific large data transfer, and near real-time movie creation and analysis of the KSTAR electron cyclotron emission images, via links between multiple paths at high sustained speeds.


Q 1: This was a complex test, involving several sites and analytic workflows.  Can you walk our readers through the end-to-end workflow? 

End-to-end workflow of the demonstration comparing real-time streaming data from the KSTAR ECEI diagnostic to side-by-side movie from XGC1 gyrokinetic turbulence code.
End-to-end workflow of the demonstration comparing real-time streaming data from the KSTAR ECEI diagnostic to side-by-side movie from XGC1 gyrokinetic turbulence code.

Eli Dart: The data were streamed from a system at KSTAR, encoded into ADIOS format, streamed to PPPL, rendered into movie frames, and visualized at PPPL. One of the key attributes of this workflow is that it is a streaming workflow. Specifically, this means that the data passes through the workflow steps (encoding in ADIOS format, transfer, rendering movie frames, showing the movie) without being written to non-volatile storage. This allows for performance improvements, because no time is spent on storage I/O. It also removes the restriction of storage allocations from the operation of the workflow – only the final data products need to be stored (if desired). 

Q 2: A big portion of this research supports the idea of federated, near real-time analysis of data.  In order to make these data transfers performant, flexible, and adaptable enough to meet the requirements for a future ITER RCR, you had to carefully engineer and coordinate with many parties.  What was the hardest part of this experiment, and what lessons does it offer ITER?

Eli Dart: It is really important to ensure that the network path is clean. By “clean” I mean that the network needs to provide loss-free IP service for the experiment traffic. Because the fusion research community is globally distributed, the data transfers cover long distances, which greatly magnifies the negative impact of packet loss on transfer performance. Test and measurement (using perfSONAR) is very important to ensure that the network is clean, as is operational excellence to ensure that problems are fixed quickly if they arise. KREONET is an example of a well-run production network – their operational excellence contributed significantly to the success of this effort.

Q 3: One of the issues you had to work around was a firewall at one institution.  What was involved in working with their site security, and how should those working with Science DMZ work through these issues?

Eli Dart: Building and operating a Science DMZ involves a combination of technical and organizational work. Different institutions have different policies, and the need for different levels of assurance depending on the nature of the work being done on the Science DMZ. The key is to understand that security policy is there for a reason, and to work with the parties involved in the context that makes sense from their perspective. Then, it’s just a matter of working together to find a workable solution that preserves safety from a cybersecurity perspective and also allows the science mission to succeed. 

Q 4: How did you build this collaboration and how did you keep everyone on the same page, any advice you can offer other experiments facing the same need to coordinate multi-national efforts?

Eli Dart: From my perspective, this result demonstrates the value of multi-institution, multi-disciplinary collaborations for achieving important scientific outcomes. Modern science is complex, and we are increasingly in a place where only teams can bring all the necessary expertise to bear on a complex problem. The members of this team have worked together in smaller groups on a variety of projects over the years – those relationships were very valuable in achieving this result.

Q 5: In the paper you present a model for a federated remote framework workflow. Looking beyond ITER, are there other applications you can see for the lessons learned from this experiment?

C.S. Chang: Lessons learned from this experiment can be applied to many other distributed scientific, industrial, and commercial applications which require collaborative data analysis and decision making.  We do not need to look too far.  Expensive scientific studies on exascale computers will most likely be collaborative efforts among geographically distributed scientists who want to analyze the simulation data and share/combine the findings in near-real-time for speedy scientific discovery and for steering of ongoing or next simulations.  The lessons learned here can influence the remote collaboration workflow used in high energy physics, climate science, space physics, and others.

Q 5.5: What’s next? You mention quite a number of possible follow on activities in the paper? Which of these most interest you, and what might follow?

Michael Churchill: Continued work by this group has led to the recently developed  open-source Python framework, DELTA, for streaming data from experiments to remote compute centers, using ADIOS for streaming over wide-area networks, and on the receiver side using asynchronous Message Passing Interface to do parallel processing of the data streams. We’ve used this for streaming data from KSTAR to the NERSC Cori supercomputer and completing a spectral analysis in parallel in less than 10 minutes, which normally in serial would take 12 hours. Frameworks such as this, enabling connecting experiments to remote high-performance computers, will open up the quality and quantity of analysis workflows that experimental scientists can run. It’s exciting to see how this can help accelerate the progress of science around the world.

Congratulations on your success! This is a significant step forward in building the data management capability that ITER will need.  

Three Questions with Joseph Nasal

Three questions with a new staff member!  Today, Joseph (Joe) Nasal, who has joined our Business Office as a Project Manager.

After graduating from Temple University, Joe began his career designing broadband Radio Frequency-hybrid fiber networks and management software for some of the first residential cable modem deployments in the country.  Early on, he also worked in defense and designed and operated private secure communications networks for federal contractors.  He spent the past two decades supporting higher education through roles in engineering, technical architecture, project management, and leadership. His work helped transform data communication at Pennsylvania State University, preparing the campus for tremendous growth in teaching and research. 

What brought you to ESnet?

I’ve been architecting and managing very large communication network design and implementation projects for most of my career.  After nearly 20 years at Penn State, it was time for a career change.  One of my close colleagues recently came to ESnet in support of Science Engagement, and when I learned through him of an opportunity to help with such exciting and important growth on a national scale I was very happy to find a place in the organization.  I’ll be operating out of my home office in State College, PA.

What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?

In data communications, it’s about getting more for less—more throughput, more distance, more fidelity, for less cost.  Cost is measured in units like dollars, or time, or energy, or human effort, and those of us who work in this space are always trying to optimize these resources. This is an exciting time because it seems like we’re on the cusp of training machines to give us a magnitude leap forward in efficiencies via automated processes and learning algorithms. But it’s going to take clear human vision to get us to where we want to be, which means as engineers, we will continue to have fun solving big problems. 

What book would you recommend?

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, a biography of Paul Erdős.  Paul was one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century whose work has implications for both computer science and information theory.  He was an eccentric genius and his personal story is a fascinating one to follow. As engineers, I think it’s important to be aware of and appreciate the great thinkers who exist at the very base level of abstraction with respect to the technologies we use and build upon.