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MREN collaborations helping create next-gen networks for data intensive science

Each year, with its international, national and regional partners, the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) collaborates with SCinet to create a national testbed for the annual ACM/IEEE International Supercomputing Conference for High-Performing Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis. Because of the pandemic, this year’s conference, SC20, which had been scheduled to take place in Atlanta, Ga., was virtual and SCinet did not develop a testbed. Consequently, MREN and its research partners designed, implemented and operated an alternative SC20 international testbed as a platform for demonstrations and experiments showcasing data intensive science applications and technologies. The testbed incorporated sites in Ottawa, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and Salt Lake City. 

For SC20, MREN and its research partners used this national testbed to successfully stage 26 large-scale demonstrations. Increasingly, science research requires gathering, analyzing, and transporting extremely large volumes of data, including high-capacity, single end-to-end 10-100 Gbps data flows that are transported among sensor sites, instruments, analytic sites, HPC centers, and data repositories. Techniques demonstrated included innovative methods based on Software Defined Networking (SDN), Software Defined Exchanges (SDXs), Data Transfer Nodes (DTNs), Network Services Interface (NSI), transport protocols, measurements, the P4 programming language, and dynamic L2 and L1 provisioning. 

Demonstrations this year included: advanced services for Petascale science; dynamic capabilities of the NSF StarLight International SDX; programmable dynamic WAN networking; the Global Research Platform; advanced services for the High Energy Physics, specifically, the Large Hadron Collider Open Network Environment; DTN-as-a-Service; geophysics; multi-100 Gbps WAN services, including Disk-to-Disk transfers across WANs; P4 data plane programming; and dynamic systems provisioning across WANs. MREN also assisted in organizing an event at SC20: “Supercomputing Forum for Experiments and Demonstrations Showcasing Innovations in Large Scale Data Intensive Science Transport Over WANs.”

In 2020, MREN also supported a demonstration at the Supercomputing Asia Conference 20, which resulted in an innovation award presented to the StarLight consortium and the International Center for Advanced Internet Research (iCAIR) at Northwestern University.