Summer at ESnet: The view from our students, Part 2

Pratyush Muthukumar is a student intern with our Prototypes & Testbed Team. He is a 2021 Goldwater Scholar at UC Irvine, working toward a BS in Computer Science. 

Pratyush Muthukumar

My time as an intern at ESnet has been thrilling and rewarding. Over the last seven months as an intern here, I have learned many valuable research, scholarly, and professional skills that I will undoubtedly use in the future. 

I have primarily been working on the SENSE (Software Defined Networking [SDN] for End-to-End Networked Science at the Exascale) project with my amazing mentors, Xi Yang and Tom Lehman, and this has been exciting and fascinating. I’ve learned a plethora of new research skills and frameworks, including multi-domain monitoring, software-defined networking, network polling, scripting, and virtualization. My project mentors have provided great guidance and supported me throughout every stage of the project. What I enjoy best about being an intern at ESnet is the resources, guidance, and tools available to support my research. I’m excited to work on such a challenging yet rewarding tool that will soon have real-world impact when deployed on ESnet.

The environment as an ESnet intern has been extremely friendly and inviting. I feel a part of the community within ESnet and I really enjoy attending the frequent seminars and brown bag lunches held multiple times weekly. Learning about new research developments from other teams at ESnet and guest lecturers from the Computer Science and Mathematics department at UC Berkeley has broadened my knowledge and interests greatly.

While my experiences may have been different during an in-person internship at ESnet, I appreciate the numerous networking and social activities that ESnet has facilitated to make remote interns feel connected. I have really enjoyed my time as an ESnet intern thus far, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my time at ESnet!

If you are interested in learning more about future summer opportunities with ESnet, please see this link (https://cs.lbl.gov/careers/summer-student-and-faculty-program/). We typically post notices and accept applications for the next summer starting in January or February.

Five Women Nab a WIN-ing Opportunity for SC21

Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) Program Selects SC21 SCinet Cohort

Five new participants have been chosen to join the Women in IT Networking program at SC (WINS) program for SC21 – the annual International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis (SC) which will take place this year from  November 14-19 in St. Louis, Missouri.

WINS was developed in 2015 to help address the gender gap that exists in information technology, particularly in the fields of network engineering and high performance computing (HPC). Each year WINS welcomes a cohort of early-to-mid career women to join the team that builds SCinet, a multi-terabit network built specially for high-bandwidth demonstrations SC attendees and exhibitors who perform high-bandwidth demonstrations. The program seeks women of all ages, races, backgrounds, IT-related professions, and geographical areas. 

“Lack of diversity in IT particularly with women and minorities is significant and an ongoing challenge and concern.  WINS is a small effort to encourage women in their early and mid-careers to stay in IT and find a professional network to engage and gain technical and non-technical support. Underrepresented minority groups are defined as African-American/Black, Latino/ Hispanic, and Native American/Native Hawaiians. The problem is particularly acute for women of color, which represent less than 2 percent of high-level technical positions,” said Marla Meehl (Manager Networking and Front Range GigaPoP (FRGP), University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)) and WINS-PI.

This year, 19 women applied for WINS. Leaders in the research and education (R&E) network and HPC communities reviewed and selected the following awardees:

  • Mary Bull, College of William & Mary, SCinet Wireless Team
  • Karen Lopez, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), SCinet DevOps Team
  • Deshon Miguel, Tohono O’odham Community College, SCinet WAN Team
  • Stacie Nixon, North Carolina Central University, SCinet Wireless Team
  • Kimberly Schjang, University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), SCinet Edge Team

SC21 participant Kimberly Schjang, Associate Network Engineer from UNLV shared her thoughts on being selected. “I am honored to represent UNLV and WINS by participating in the SC Conference this year. I feel that this opportunity will not only help me grow as a network engineer, but it will also give me the opportunity to represent Black women, the LGBT community, and women in STEM.”

As a core component of the program, the WINS awardees are deeply immersed in a multi-month-long, intense engineering experience before the event begins and during the SC conference while SCinet is operated live. They join one of over fifteen SCinet teams, are paired with a mentor, and are involved in all phases of the SCinet process. 

Kimball Sekaquaptewa, Chief Technology Director for the Santa Fe Indian School and SC19 WINS participant can attest to the experience. “In the span of three weeks, amazing highly-skilled and intelligent professionals who are generous with their knowledge come together to build an incredible 4.2 Terabit wide area network spanning the continental United States to Asia and beyond. You won’t know until you do it, how profound the experience really is.” 

When WINS began in 2015, 14% of SCinet professional volunteers were women. By 2017, the number had climbed to 21%, and in 2020, 40 of the 115 SCinet volunteers – 19 from the WINS program – and 40% of the SCinet leadership were women. 

“WINS has had a tremendous impact on the diversity of SCinet,” said Lauren Rotman, ESnet Science Engagement Group Lead, and a co-lead of the WINS program. “Not only has the male-to-female volunteer ratio doubled since the program started – the program has added another dimension of diversity by bringing in participants from community colleges, tribal colleges, and other smaller institutions that are traditionally underrepresented.” 

To that end, Sekaquaptewa added, “Because I had just completed building two fiber optic backbones connecting six tribes in New Mexico for my home institution, I could now see how to grow them to connect to a national backbone more meaningfully than just access to commodity Internet. I saw and better yet met the people behind the networks with whom I now collaborate to build connections that empower Tribal nations in the digital space.”

The WINS program has also had a significant impact on the entire SCinet volunteer team which speaks to the broad benefits of a diverse workforce. 

Lance Hutchinson, Manager, Space Control Applications, Sandia National Laboratories and SC21 SCinet Chair said, “WINS is not just creating a more inclusive environment for SCinet but it is also improving the quality of learning opportunities for all of our volunteers as part of their participation. All of our team leads, management and others involved in supporting the WINS awardees are building brand new hands-on mentoring, teaching and leadership skills. The program has exponential value as it improves the SCinet community on multiple levels.”

Jennifer Kim, IT Manager at the Montgomery County Community College, an SC19 WINS awardee shared her thoughts. “I am looking forward to the much anticipated event that is SC21. Originally awarded for SC19, I deferred attendance as I was about to be a first-time Mom around the same time. I think this is important to note as this offering demonstrates WINS’ support that is unique to women.” 

Kim added, “My gratitude only grew as the following year, SC20, was virtual, and WINS made sure to offer us awardees the opportunity to participate in  SC21. I am excited to experience the energy and networking, in every sense of the word, of all facets of the SCinet event. I can hardly wait to work with fellow awardees, teammates and learn of their journeys to SC and what keeps them coming back. And of course, eager to build and service the fastest network I will have the pleasure of working on, which happens to be one of the fastest networks in the world.”

Carlos Rojas Torres, Network Engineer at UCAR and team lead for the SCinet Inclusivity team added, “The SCinet team are thrilled to welcome the SC21 WINS participants to become part of this growing ecosystem as well as the SC19 and SC20 deferred participants – making this the largest WINS cohort ever! WINS is a special and significant part of the SC21 Inclusivity Program which aims to provide opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds.”

In addition to the SCinet experience, WINS provides ongoing support and career development opportunities for the awardees before, during, and after the conference. This even includes monthly calls for the community of WINS alumni participants which now tops 40 women. 

Wendy Huntoon, co-PI for the WINS NSF grant said, “The WINS program provides significant opportunities for technical skill development, broad professional development, and career advancement for its participants. WINS participants broaden and deepen their technical skills, gain exposure to technologies or equipment outside their standard work environment, expand their professional network, and improve their collaboration and communication skills. All skills the women are able to apply at their home institution or in the broader networking community.”

WINS is a joint effort between the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR),the  Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), and the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER). The multi-year program is funded primarily by grants from the National Science Foundation and direct funding from ESnet with support from the Department of Energy. Due to COVID travel restrictions, ESnet will provide programmatic support for SC21. Members of the WINS coordinating team include PI Marla Meehl, Belinda Green, Susan Guastella, Carlos Rojas Torres (SCinet Inclusivity Liaison), of UCAR; co-PI Wendy Huntoon of KINBER;  Jason Zurawski, Lauren Rotman, Kate Robinson of ESnet; and Kimball Sekaquaptewa with Santa Fe Indian School (SCinet Co-Chairs of WINS).

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. 

Summer at ESnet: the view from our students: Part 1

Summer students are a key part of growing ESnet and supporting the scientific networking community. Every year, we host research projects with talented students working on important research topics. We benefit tremendously from their enthusiasm, talent, and fresh ideas, and they work directly with our staff across a wide set of disciplines.  Here are some thoughts from two current students on what it is like to work with ESnet, and what research excites them.

Sandesh Dhawaskar Sathyanarayana:

I am thrilled with my summer internship at ESnet. During my Multipath Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) research, I used in-kernel programs to implement receiver-based network controllers and have always wanted to work more on it as it allows one to hook into the kernel and innovate the different network protocols. Software Defined Networking (SDN) along with dataplane and kernel network programming is trending as it enables the telecom world to save billions of dollars and operate the network more efficiently. 

My goal for this summer was to work and innovate in the SDN field, and ESnet was the perfect fit for it. At ESnet, I work on the Q-factor project using technologies such as eBPF (extended Berkeley Packet Filters) and XDP (eXpress Data Path) to improve data transfer speeds in science networks. I get to play with the state-of-the-art P4 dataplane programming language for switches and programmable NICs. The project is a collaboration with Florida International University (FIU), so I get to work with amazing people. Our team is small, with great mentors like Richard Cziva and Jeronimo Bezerra. 

What I love the most is the freedom to think and solve problems with great support. Having to work in different labs, I used to be stressed most of the time to complete the work. This summer has been a very different experience with excellent mentorship. I also had other offers and chose ESnet as my advisor and co-advisors insisted strongly, and I am happy I went with ESnet.

Elias Joseph:

Interning at ESnet has been a really good learning experience for me. The regular seminars from researchers in the lab about their current projects have allowed me to learn about a lot of topics I usually wouldn’t have much exposure to, as well as see how the concepts I have learned about in school are being applied in a professional environment. It is really interesting to see how machine learning is actively being used at the laboratory, and what current advancements are being made with it.

As much as I’m learning from the seminars, I’m learning even more from the project I’m working on. This internship is giving me experience using a lot of tools that are prevalent in computer science but are underutilized in my master’s program, and my mentor has been extremely helpful in getting me up to speed on these tools.

I’ve also found working on my project very fulfilling. Primarily I’ve been working on a tool that displays internet traffic, as well as predictions for future traffic, and seeing it come together over the past month and a half has been really cool.

I do miss the social aspect of working in an office, but the networking and social activities that have been organized have done a lot to alleviate that, and overall, I have grown a lot in the first half of my internship.

If you are interested in learning more about future summer opportunities with ESnet, please see this link — we typically post notices and accept applications for the next summer starting in January or February.

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.

High Energy Physics Requirements Review Now Available: The Data Deluge Shows no Sign of Cresting!

Lauren Rotman and Jason Zurawski


Across the physical sciences, new instruments and capabilities are continuing a relentless growth in data production and need for high speed networking and analysis resources. 

ESnet stays on-top of these trends via the Network Requirements Review process, which for the past 15 years has been a remarkable and useful collaboration between the DOE Office of Advanced Supercomputing Research (ASCR), ESnet and science programs across the DOE Office of Science.

The latest Network Requirements Review for the Office of Science High Energy Physics program office (HEP) is now available — among many other findings, this review confirms that the exponential growth of scientific data generation will continue unabated as we proceed into what may well be a new golden age for high energy physics research. Some samples include:

The upcoming High Luminosity era for the Large Hadron Collider (beyond 2027, or Run-4) will require multi-Tbps network speeds to support globally dispersed “Tier 1” HPC resources.  Scientists will use the LHC to uncover how the Higgs-Boson interacts and gives mass to other particles, and explore emerging evidence for particle behaviors not explained by current physics models. Each data-taking year, the experiments, ATLAS and CMS combined, are expected to accumulate roughly 1 EB of new data and it is estimated that complete data set sizes may routinely exceed 100 PB.  

Expected maximum luminosity and integrated luminosity for the LHC as a function of calendar year, data produced tracks with improved luminosity and resolution

Scientists at the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) in South Dakota and at Fermilab in Illinois, will use high speed data transfer to identify supernova events, as part of ongoing measurement of neutrino interactions. Supernovae measured by DUNE will generate over 200TB of compressed data per event, and Research and Educational Networks (REN) must be able to supply highly reliable, predictable data transfer capabilities to provide telescope targeting data to global arrays.

10kt DUNE Far-Detector SP module, showing the alternating 58 m long (into the page), 12 m high anode (A) and cathode (C) planes, as well as the field cage that surrounds the drift regions between the anode and cathode planes. The blank area on the left side was added to show the profile of a single anode plane assembly (APA). Person included for scale.

The Cosmic Microwave Background, Stage 4 (CMB-S4) experiment will require data management and transfer capabilities in some of the most demanding locations on earth. Operating two observational locations, and multiple telescopes with a combined total of 500,000 cryogenically-cooled superconducting detectors at the South Pole and in the Chilean Atacama Desert, CMB-S4 will provide an unprecedented picture back into the start of the Universe. Operating for seven years in these conditions, 22 TB (~8 TB at the South Pole and ~14 TB in Chile) of data will be generated daily, leading to an accrual of 3 PB annually, and as much as 100 TB over the full program lifecycle.

Two Cross-Dragone (CD) telescopes (one is pictured above) with six meter diameter input apertures will be deployed at the Chilean site to map roughly 70% of the sky every day to support the dark universe, matter-mapping, and time-varying mm-wave sky science goals. Image and caption courtesy of the CMB-S4 Project

Network Requirements Reviews analyze the current, near, and long-term needs of the HEP community, providing a network and data-centric understanding of the scientific process used by the researchers and scientists. These requirements reviews drive ESnet’s investments in new services and capabilities, and enable ESnet to build strong partnerships with Office of Science (SC) programs, PIs, and user facilities. More information on this ESnet requirements review process can be found here.

We would like to thank the 13 HEP projects, and all of the HEP & DOE Office of Science collaborators who generously gave of their time, expertise, and most importantly, their enthusiasm for the future of high energy physics, as part of creating this report.

We want to especially thank the entire Science Engagement team plus Kate Robinson, and Dale Carder with our Network Engineering group who all provided outstanding support and technical expertise.

Programmable Per-Packet Network Telemetry: From Wire to Kafka at Scale

High-speed intelligent Research and Educational Networks (RENs),  such as the one we’re building as part of the ESnet 6 program, will require a greater ability to understand and manage traffic flows. One research program underway to provide this capability is the High Touch effort,  a programmable, scalable, and expressive hardware and software solution that produces and analyzes per-packet telemetry information with nanosecond-accurate timing. Along with Zhang Liu, Bruce Mah, Yatish Kumar, and Chin Guok, I have just released a presentation for the Proceedings of the 2021 Virtual Meeting on Systems and Network Telemetry and Analytics, describing work underway to create a programmable, very high speed, packet monitoring, and telemetry capability as part of bringing High-Touch to life.

Richard Cziva presenting at the SNTA ’21: Proceedings of the 2021 on Systems and Network Telemetry and Analytics

For more information on this talk, please see this link.

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”