Exploitation of Switched Lightpaths for e-Science Applications
1st December 2004 to 30th November 2006
Today, individual eScience applications are capable of generating network flows measured in Gbps, often between a well-defined set of nodes, of durations measured in hours, days or even weeks, and with tight constraints on Quality-of-Service (delay, jitter, packet loss etc.). The needs of such applications are best met by switched point-to-point circuits, rather than the traditional and costly routing of information at the packet level. The dynamic provisioning of switched "lightpaths" in response to application requests requires new control methodologies to create, remove and control end-to-end circuits across domain boundaries, as well as appropriate transport protocols to exploit their dedicated bandwidth nature. The UKLight infrastructure will provide a platform on which network protocol research can be performed, while at the same time benefitting many high-profile and high-demand scientific experiments that find it costly and/or difficult, even impossible, to meet their data transport needs over the production network. ESLEA will immediately bring applications in 4 scientific areas - HEP, eVLBI, HPC/Visualization and eHealth/oncology -to UKLight, providing them with the means to effectively exploit the UKLight infrastructure. This will yield the immediate benefits of high-bandwidth transfer of application data, coupled with the longer-term goal of integrating switched lightpaths with applications through the provision of appropriate control mechanisms and interfaces. These goals will be achieved through three activities: i) Capability will put in place the basics for usage of the network, by understanding and characterising the UKLight facility and its international connections, setting up connections to/through UKLight, managing a scheduling and reservation mechanism, evaluating and optimising transport protocols appropriate to the switched lightpath environment, and integrating these new protocols with the applications. ii) Exploitation will provide each application with mini-project managers responsible for bringing the application to UKLight, determining its requirements, arranging for circuits to be scheduled and put in place, interfacing applications to the network, and generally "taking ownership" of a programme of network experiments and demonstrations for each application. iii) Network Services will develop control-plane mechanisms for the scheduling and reservation of the network resource, automated set-up/tear-down of circuits, managing inter-domain issues, and creating lightpath request and control interfaces through Grid services. Standardisation work on these aspects will be closely followed. Members of the applications communities are closely involved in ESLEA and the project has strong support from industrial partners Cisco and British Telecom, and overseas partners in the optical network and applications communities.