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EPOC provides personalized technology support for science communities

Scientific progress is built on top of a complex system of hardware, software, networks, and well-defined processes to translate innovative ideas into research outcomes. When components of this finely-tuned pipeline break down, either due to broken parts or the inability to scale with changing data needs, data transfer speeds can be reduced, impacting research productivity.

The Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC) is a collaborative focal point for operational expertise and analysis jointly led by Indiana University (IU) and the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). EPOC provides researchers with a holistic set of tools and services needed to debug network performance issues and enable reliable and robust data transfers. By considering the full end-to-end data movement pipeline, EPOC is uniquely able to support collaborative science, allowing researchers to make the most effective use of shared data, computing, and storage resources to accelerate the discovery process.

One of the main activities of EPOC is the Roadside Assistance and Consultation Service. Roadside Assistance provides an operations center and process pipeline for immediate help when data sharing failures occur. EPOC coordinates partners and related organizations from multiple network domains to identify the cause of performance degradation and network failures, and then resolve them. The cases submitted cover a wide variety of topics, including, but not limited to, network and data architecture design, network performance assessment, Science DMZ design, and advice on the deployment of measurement and monitoring systems.

In 2021, there were 110 requests for assistance from organizations in eight countries, 32 states, and 11 EPSCoR jurisdictions. The majority of these centered around data transfer performance issues between two institutions, Science DMZ deployment reviews, and data architecture planning advice.

One of the highlights was the engagement with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Following the collapse of the Arecibo telescope in December 2020, the EPOC team played a pivotal role in helping move and store over 3 petabytes of information encompassing the only copy of more than 50 years of astronomical observations. EPOC staff provided the expertise required to ensure all network paths were clean and performing as expected, to be able to efficiently transfer the data from Arecibo to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Many community partners were involved and this work received an HPCwire Readers’ Choice award for Best HPC Collaboration across Academia, Government, and Industry in 2021.

Anyone in the Quilt community can contact EPOC for advice or consultations. Learn more at https://epoc.global or email at [epoc at iu dot edu].

Founded in 1820, Indiana University is one of the world’s foremost public institutions. With nearly 100,000 students and more than 20,000 employees statewide, IU continues to pursue its core missions of education and research while building a foundation for the university’s enduring strengths in teaching and learning, world-class scholarship, innovation, creative activity, community engagement and academic freedom. Bloomington is the flagship campus of the university, and each one of IU’s seven campuses is an accredited, four-year degree-granting institution.

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is a high-performance, unclassified network built to support scientific research. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (SC) and managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides services to more than 50 DOE research sites, including the entire National Laboratory system, its supercomputing facilities, and its major scientific instruments. ESnet also connects to 140+ research and commercial networks, enabling DOE-funded scientists to productively collaborate with partners around the world.