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.

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.

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 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. 

Cyber Infrastructure Engineering Lunch & Learn Series Hits 100!

In 2017 ESnet, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, created a series of  bi-weekly talks on network engineering and research engagement topics. These “Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Engineering Lunch & Learn” presentations, held every other  Friday afternoon at 2:00pm ET, have become an important way for engineers from the  research and education community to share technical best practices for deploying and operating laboratory and campus networks. It has also served as a social event for a common community of interest especially during the pandemic. 

A representative slide from Jason’s 4 May 2020 CI Lunch & Learn Talk on “TCP Basics and Science DMZ” — networking science with a healthy dose of LoLcats.

On March 12th, ESnet’s  Jason Zurawski  – who developed and still leads the events –  will convene the 100th CI Engineering Lunch and Learn.  A complete set of recordings of past sessions is available on the EPOC YouTube Channel located here. An anniversary is always a chance to look back on what has been accomplished; here are 5 Questions with Jason to get his thoughts on the Lunch and Learn series.


Thinking back over the past 100 talks, which have particularly stuck in your mind?

The best turn-out and feedback that I receive from the participants comes from either “hot topics” or engaging speakers.  

For instance, we have had a number of popular, well attended talks on the development of the BBR protocol (going as far back as 2017). .  Other sessions  that were well attended focused on topics like perfSONAR, Science DMZ, and Data Transfer; all of these are critical to building an effective and high performing cyberinfrastructure that supports data transfers in service of global science collaborations.

Other critical talks come from innovative and important voices from the R&E community.  Hyojoon Kim from Princeton talking about P4 and how it is used on their campus to facilitate network  research (https://youtu.be/R2UQH4Y8Uec), and the perfSONAR project’s use of new measurement protocols such as TWAMP (https://youtu.be/7wRZbmKmtAY) are great examples of these kind of talks. As of last year, many of these folks would have given a talk ‘in person’ at a conference, but have not been able to do so due to the pandemic.  We have also done a number of tutorials and project updates that remain popular.  For example, tutorials by Fatema Bannat Wala on Zeek Use Cases  and by Alan Whinery with University of Hawaii on IPv6 Deployment, have been especially notable.

Have you seen a change in attendance or role for these CI events from before the pandemic and now?

We have seen moderate (10-15%) increases for both the live and recorded sessions  during the week of a talk. We have also seen a similar increase in subscription to our membership list since its inception in 2017. .  Some of the “tutorial” content has increased viewership over time – perhaps as the pandemic lets our audience review content from home, that they were not able to previously study due to a lack of time. This is a net positive, as it points to a general trend that it is easier/more desirable to watch a video on a topic (e.g. deploying software) versus reading documentation/following instructions.  

What makes for a successful CI talk?

Passion from the speaker is very important. We want to hear from community members that are excited about what they are presenting: a research project, a new operational component, or a problem they want to solve (or have solved). Speaking from experience is also valuable, as the audience wants to know deep technical details for most of the talks. 

What do you think has been the biggest challenge keeping this series going?

We’ve  always had  willing presenters, and to date, we are always able to schedule between 20 and 30 talks over the course of the year. The primary challenge is making sure we can continue to find fresh perspectives that hit on some core values:

  • Supporting the diversity of voices (gender, ethnicity, institutional background). When reflecting on the prior 100 talks, we unfortunately skewed strongly away from these diverse categories; this is a trend that must be reversed. Recruitment to address this is already underway for 2021 and beyond.  
  • Focusing on talks that address the needs of modern CI: operational best practices, policy choices, translation of research to production, etc.  
  • Ensuring our audience is growing. These talks assist in bringing new contributors up to speed vis a vis retirements and other attrition where knowledge may not be passed down to newcomers.

What do you think will be major themes in the next 100 hundred CI sessions?

A theme we have encouraged from the start is to share what we know, and acknowledge what we don’t know. We want to see the major institutions and facilities pass on the lessons they have fought hard to learn and implement so that campuses of  smaller size with limited CI  knowledge level can benefit. Similarly, we want those individuals that are not as experienced  to be vocal and ask (potentially hard) questions to the community to drive what needs to be presented and discussed.  

I believe that policy (e.g. long term care, maintenance, upgrades, sustainability) of CI will be an ongoing concern as we approach 10 or more years of operations for some facilities. Security is always a hot area, as the threats continue and adapt over time. Technology continues to evolve and upgrade rapidly, so hearing about the ‘latest and greatest’ will also drive content and speakers for the talks.


Jason, thank you for running the CI series, and all the hard work associated with keeping a regular technical exchange going like clockwork during a pandemic. I look forward to the next 100 CI Lunch & Learn!

Three Questions with Karim Benbourenane

Three questions with a new staff member on our Software Engineering – Orchestration and Core Data Team!

Karim comes to us from Carnegie Mellon University, where he served as a Software Engineer in the Network Services group. In that role, he designed, implemented, deployed, and maintained numerous applications to provide support to the campus network infrastructure. He has worked on a diverse set of network computing problems with a focus on automation and self-service utilities. Karim is proficient in a multitude of application development stacks but has a special place in his heart for those that put Python in the mix.

Karim Benbourenane in the “Pre-Pandemic-Mask” era

What brought you to ESnet?

I’ve always had a profound curiosity for the intersection of mathematics, science, and technology. Starting with a strong foundation in mathematics, I learned how to better apply my problem-solving  skills by pursuing graduate work in computational biology. It was there that I discovered how next-generation computing technologies could radically transform and elevate entire scientific fields. I’ve been seeking to utilize the skills I’ve built up over my 15 years of industry experience to help build tools for scientists, to empower them, and help them achieve discoveries in a world that is becoming ever increasingly more complex. The work being done at ESnet lines up perfectly with this goal in mind.

What is the most exciting thing going on in software engineering right now?

I would say the rapid proliferation of containerization technologies and the use of cloud infrastructure for distributed computing problems, as well as advancements in machine learning libraries and toolkits that let scientists more easily simplify the manipulation and analysis of large datasets. Many of these concepts were in their infancy or early stages only a decade ago, and now they’re everywhere and I’m happy to see how fast they’ve been adopted.

What book would you recommend?

Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe by J. Richard Gott. An accessible read for laymen like me, about how one would — given some ridiculous assumptions — go about creating various time machines.

Light Bytes – a new name for the ESnet Blog

You may have noticed that the masthead has changed.  After almost a decade, we have finally decided that the “ESnet Blog” deserves a less literal name. “Light Bytes” was selected to better embody two things about which we at ESnet are especially proud.  

First, getting to build the world’s greatest research and education network, and to support global science is a great honor and a technical challenge.  Through ESnet6 and our continuing research, we are advancing our mission of making scientific data free of geographical constraints, to “make bytes light” in terms of fast transport, and to deploy state of the art optical network for “bytes being transported by light.”

Second, while ESnet is officially a DOE User Facility, it is most importantly a remarkable group of people. We hope that this website will show a bit about the great people who make our mission happen and the interesting problems we get to work on.  In that sense, “Light Bytes” is a small written offering, a collection of features about things that are happening while the cause of “networking for science” and “science of networking” progresses. 

New Ground-Shaking Science with Dark Fiber

As a Network Engineer at ESnet, I am no stranger to the importance of designing and maintaining a robust fiber-optic network. To operate a network that will “enable and accelerate scientific discovery by delivering unparalleled network infrastructure, capabilities, and tools,” ESnet has acquired an impressive US continental footprint of more than 21,000 kilometers of leased fiber-optic cable. We spend a great deal of effort designing and sourcing redundant fiber-optic paths to support network data connectivity between scores of DOE Office of Science facilities and research collaborators across the country.

But network data transfer is only one of the uses for fiber-optic cable. What about using buried fiber-optic cable for some truly “ground-shaking” science? The answer is “Yes, absolutely!” – and I was fortunate to play a part in exploring new uses for fiber-optic cable networks this past year.

Back in 2017, the majority of our 21,000 km fiber footprint was still considered “dark fiber,” meaning it was not yet in use. At that time, ESnet was actively working on the design to upgrade from our current production network “ESnet5” to our next-generation network “ESnet6,” but we hadn’t yet put our fiber into production.

At the same time, Dr. Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, then graduate students Nate Lindsey and Shan Dou, and the Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Science Area (EESA) were exploring the use of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology to detect seismic waves by using laser pulses across buried fiber optic cable. The timing was perfect to try and expand on the short-range tests that Dr. Ajo-Franklin and his team had been performing at the University of California’s Richmond Field Station by using a section of the unused ESnet dark fiber footprint in the West Sacramento area for more extensive testing. ESnet’s own Chris Tracy worked with Dr. Ajo-Franklin and team to demonstrate how the underground fiber-optic cables running from West Sacramento northwest toward Woodland in California’s Central Valley made an excellent sensor platform for early earthquake detection, monitoring groundwater, and mapping new sources of potential geothermal energy.

The Sacramento ESnet Dark Fiber Route (left) and seismic events recorded on the array from around the world including the massive M 8.1 earthquake in Chiapas, Mexico.

Fast forward to May 2019, and Dr. Ajo-Franklin was heading up a new collaborative scientific research project for the DOE’s Geothermal Technology Office based on his prior DAS experimentation successes using ESnet fiber. The intent was to map potential geothermal energy locations in the California Imperial Valley south of the Salton Sea, near Calipatria and El Centro. The team, including scientists in EESA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Rice University needed a fiber path to conduct the experiment. It would make sense to assume that ESnet’s fiber footprint, which runs through that area, would be an excellent candidate for this experiment. Fortunately for ESnet’s other users, but unfortunately for the DAS team, by 2018 the ESnet6 team was already “lighting” this previously dark fiber. 

However, just because ESnet fiber in the Imperial Valley was no longer a candidate for DAS-based experiments, that didn’t mean there weren’t ways to gain access to unused dark fiber. For every piece of fiber that has been put into production to support ESnet6, there are dozens if not hundreds of other fibers running right alongside it. When fiber-optic providers install new fiber paths, they pull large cables consisting of many individual fibers to lease or sell to as many customers as possible. Because the ESnet fiber footprint was running right through the Imperial Valley, we knew that there was likely unused fiber in the ground, and only had to find a provider that would be willing to lease a small section to Berkeley Lab for Dr. Ajo-Franklin’s experiment. 

Making the search a little more complicated, the DAS equipment utilized for this experiment has an effective sensing range that is limited to less than 30 kilometers. Most fiber providers expect to lease long sections of fiber connecting metropolitan areas. For example, the fiber circuits that run through the Imperial Valley are actually intended to connect metropolitan areas of Arizona to large cities in Southern California. Finding a provider that would be willing to break up a continuous 600 km circuit connecting Phoenix to Los Angeles just to sell a 30 km piece for a year-long research project would be a difficult task.  

One of my contributions to the ESnet6 project was sourcing new dark fiber circuits and data center colocation spaces to “fill out” our existing footprint and get ready for our optical system deployments. Because of those efforts, I knew that there were often entire sections of fiber that had been damaged across the country and would likely not be repaired until there was a new customer that wanted to lease the fiber. I was asked to assist Dr. Ajo-Franklin and his team to engineer a new fiber solution for the experiment. I just had to find someone willing to lease us one of these small damaged sections.

After speaking with many providers in the area, the communications company Zayo was able to find a section of fiber starting in Calipatria, heading south through El Centro and then west to Plaster City, that was a great candidate for DAS use. This section of fiber had been accidentally cut near Plaster City and was considered unusable for networking purposes. Working with Zayo, we were able to negotiate a lease on this “broken” fiber span along with a small amount of rack space and power to house the DAS equipment that Dr. Ajo-Franklin’s team would need to move forward with their research.  

The Imperial Valley Dark Fiber Array: (A) Team Co-PI Veronica Rodriguez Tribaldos (LBNL) turning on the DAS system. (B) The ILA used to house the equipment in Calipatria. (C) The Zayo fiber section currently being used in the experiment. (D) The corresponding DAS data showing a magnitude 2.6 earthquake located near the Salton Sea, to the north. 

This cut fiber segment was successfully “turned up” for the project on November 10, 2020 by a team including Co-PI Veronica Rodriguez Tribaldos, Michelle Robertson, and Todd Wood (EESA/LBNL), and seismic data collection equipment is now up and running. The figure above (D) shows some great initial data recorded on the array, a small earthquake many miles to the north. There will be many more articles and reports from the Imperial Valley Dark Fiber Team as they continue to gather data and perform their experiments, and I’m sure we’ll begin to see fiber across the country put to use for this type of sensing and research.

I’ve had a great experience working with the different groups that were assembled for this project. By seeing how new technologies and methods are being developed to use fiber-optic cable for important research outside of computing science, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for how our labs and universities are tackling some of our biggest energy and public safety challenges.

Three Questions with Asma Aldaghar

Three questions with a new staff member on our Networking Engineering Team!

Asma earned her Bachelors in Computer Science from Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai, where she majored in Network Sciences and Engineering. In Dubai, she was a member of IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE), one of the first organizations to recognize women’s presence in Engineering in the UAE, and participated in many WIE summits. Asma left Dubai, immigrating to California where she has worked as a Network Engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area for multinational corporations such as Google and Amazon, in Los Angeles for AT&T, and in the Central Valley as a Technical Infrastructure Lead for the Turlock Irrigation District. Beyond network engineering, Asma is also keenly interested in scripting, virtualization, automation, building databases, and working with open-source operating systems.

In her personal time, Asma enjoys reading, traveling, hiking and baking vegan goods.

Question 1: What brought you to ESnet?

I was introduced to ESnet and LBNL through my professor who also happens to work at LLNL. After hours of research on the ESnet public website, I was impressed by the lab’s accomplishments and future projects, specifically the ones that are focused on providing network services for national labs and some international research facilities. At this stage of my career, I wanted to be part of an organization which has an impactful mission that is beyond the bottom line. ESnet seems to satisfy both my professional and personal interests, and I am thrilled about this opportunity!

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

Automation! The vast majority of networking tasks are still executed manually, which can be time and effort taxing for network engineers. Incorporating automation into network services will assist in managing repetitive tasks and consequently improve network availability.

Question 3: What book do you recommend?

Big Farms make Big Flu by Rob Wallace. Looking at our current situation with this deadly pandemic, it’s very important to educate ourselves of how we got here. Apart from the fact that I learned a lot from Rob Wallace’s extraordinary analysis of our current agricultural practices, I also incorporated significant changes in my daily life (plant-based diet, awareness of ethical trades and supporting sustainable energy).

Looking back at ESnet’s 2020

Advancing our strategy and shaping our position on the board.
Some thoughts from Inder on the year-that-was.

Miniature from Alfonso X’s Libro del axedrez dados et tablas (Book of chess, dices and tables), c. 1283. , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Friends, Well-wishers, Colleagues, and all of ESnet,

Chess! 2020 has been much more challenging than this game. It’s also been a year where we communicated through the squares on our zoom screens, filled with faces of our colleagues, collaborators, and loved ones.

In January, Research and Education leaders came together in Hawaii at the Pacific Telecommunications Council meeting to discuss the future of networking across the oceans. It was impossible to imagine then that we would not be able to see each other again for such a long time. Though thanks to those underwater cables, we have been able to communicate seamlessly across the globe.

Looking back at 2020, we not only established a solid midgame position on our ESnet chessboard, but succeeded in ‘winning positions’ despite the profound challenges. The ESnet team successfully moved our network operations to be fully remote (and 24/7) and accomplished several strategic priorities. 

ESnet played some really interesting gambits this year: 

  1. Tackled COVID-related network growth and teleworking issues for the DOE complex
    • We saw a 4x spike in remote traffic and worked closely across several Labs to upgrade their connectivity. We continue to address the ever-growing demand in a timely manner. 

    • As we all shifted to telework from home, ESnet engineers developed an impromptu guide that was valuable to troubleshoot our home connectivity issues. 
  2. Progressed greatly on implementing our next-generation network, ESnet6
    • We deployed and transitioned to the ESnet6 optical backbone network, with 300 new site installations, 100’s of 100G waves provisioned, with just six months of effort, and while following pandemic safety constraints. I am grateful to our partners Infinera (Carahsoft) and Lumen for working with our engineers to make this happen. Check out below how we decommissioned the ESnet5 optical network and lit up the ESnet6 network.
    • Installed a brand new management network and security infrastructure upgrades along with significant performance improvements.
    • We awarded the new ESnet6 router RFP (Congratulations Nokia and IMPRES!); the installs start soon.
    • Issued another RFP for optical transponders, and will announce the winner shortly.
  3. Took initiative on several science collaborations to address current and future networking needs
    • We brainstormed new approaches with the Rubin Observatory project team, Amlight, DOE and NSF program managers to meet the performance and security goals for traffic originating in Chile. We moved across several countries in South America before reaching the continental U.S. in Florida (Amlight), and eventually the U.S. Data Facility at SLAC via ESnet.
    • Drew insights through deep engagement of ESnet engineers with the High Energy Physics program physicists, for serving the data needs of their current and planned experiments expediently.
      Due to the pandemic, a two-day immersive in-person meeting turned into a multi-week series of Zoom meetings, breakouts, and discussions.
    • When an instrument produces tons of data, how do you build the data pipeline reliably? ESnet engineers took on this challenge, and worked closely with the GRETA team to define and develop the networking architecture and data movement design for this instrument. This contributed to a successful CD 2/3 review of the project—a challenging enough milestone during normal times, and particularly tough when done remotely. 
    • Exciting opening positions were created with EMSL, FRIB, DUNE/SURF, LCLS-II…these games are still in progress, more will be shared soon. 
  4. Innovated to build a strong technology portfolio with a series of inspired moves
    • AI/ML
      • We demonstrated Netpredict, a tool using deep learning models and real-time traffic statistics to predict when and where the network will be congested. Mariam’s web page showcases some of the other exciting investigations in progress. 
      • Richard and his collaborators published Real-time flow classification by applying AI/ML to detailed network telemetry.
    • High-touch ESnet6 project
      • Ever dream of having the ability to look at every packet, a “packetscope”, at your fingertips? An ability to create new ways to troubleshoot, performance engineer, and gain application insights? We demonstrated a working prototype of that vision at the SC20 XNET workshop
    • SENSE
      • We deployed a beta version of software that provides science applications the ability to orchestrate large data flows across administrative domains securely. What started as a small research project five years ago (Thanks ASCR!) is now part of the AutoGOLE project initiative in addition to being used for Exascale Computing Project (ECP) project, ExaFEL.
    • TCP
      • Initiated the Q-Factor project this year, a research collaboration with Amlight, funded by NSF. The project will enable ultra-high-speed data transfer optimization by TCP parameter tuning through the use of programmable dataplane telemetry: https://q-factor.io/
      • We testbed thoroughly the interactions between TCP congestion control algorithms, BBRv2 and CUBIC. A detailed conversation with Google, the authors of the BBRv2 implementation, is in progress.
  5. Initiated strategic new games, with a high potential for impact
    • FABRIC/FAB
      • Executed on the vision and design of a nationwide @scale research testbed working alongside a superstar multi-university team.
      • With the new FAB grant, FABRIC went international with plans to put nodes in Bristol, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Geneva. More locations and partners are possibilities for the future.  
    • Edge Computing
      • Created an prototype FPGA-based edge-computing platform for data-intensive science instruments in collaboration with the Computational Research Division and Xilinx. Look for exciting news on the blog as we complete the prototype deployment of this platform.
    • Quantum
    • 5G
      • What are the benefits of widespread deployment of 5G technology on science research? We contributed to the development of this important vision at a DOE workshop. New and exciting pilots are emerging that will change the game on how science is conducted. Stay tuned. 

Growth certainly has its challenges. But, as we grew, we evolved from our old game into an adept new playing style. I am thankful for the trust that all of you placed in ESnet leadership, vital for our numerous, parallel successes. Our 2020 reminds me of the scene in Queen’s Gambit where the young Beth Harmon played all the members of a high-school chess team at the same time. 

Several achievements could not make it to this blog, but are important pieces on the ESnet chess board. They required immense support from all parts of ESnet, CS Area staff, Lab procurement, Finance, HR, IT, Facilities, and Communications partners.

I am especially grateful to the DOE Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research leadership, NSF, and our program manager Ben Brown, whose unwavering support has enabled us to adapt and execute swiftly despite blockades. 

All this has only been possible due to the creativity, resolve, and resilience of ESnet staff — I am truly proud of each one of you. I am appreciative of the new hires that trusted their careers with us and joined us remotely—without shaking hands or even stepping foot at the lab.

My wish is for all to stay safe this holiday season, celebrate your successes, and enjoy that extra time with your immediate family. In 2021, I look forward to killer moves on the ESnet chessboard, while humanity checkmates the virus. 

Signing off for the year, 

Inder Monga