2008 Significant Efforts

Outstanding teamwork and technical expertise exhibited during the HEC WAN Transition pre-acceptance checkout, formal acceptance testing, and user transitions activities

Members of Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)'s High End Computing Network (HECN) group demonstrated outstanding expertise, dedication and teamwork to enable the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program to transition its extensive wide area network (WAN) user-production data flows to a custom upgrade of the NASA Integrated Services Network (NISN) including NISN's first 10-Gigabit per second (10-Gbps) link. This transition will promote improved HEC-driven science research and collaboration by enabling improved transfers and access to large-volume datasets particularly between the Ames Research Center (ARC)-based HEC Columbia and the GSFC-based NASA Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) supercomputer facilities.

The HECN group led the development of a sequence of requirements-oriented acceptance tests conducted to verify each phase of the network implementation - from basic communication to actual user-data transfers. These tests served as the final verification of capability for the NISN upgrade before opening up the new network to users. Many long nights and weekends were spent performing tests, collecting metrics, evaluating results, and tracking down sources of transfer bottlenecks. Generation of these unique tests resulted in identification of a number of unique problems that would have been difficult if not impossible to identify once the network had gone into production. The result of these many hours of extra effort is a validated stable 10-Gbps capable NISN useful to the HEC Program.

The HECN group worked in concert with participants from both the ARC and Marshall Space Flight Center to work out communication and routing issues across the myriad of new and existing devices involved. However the HECN group led the set up of 10-Gbps capable network-test workstations at ARC and GSFC to mimmic end user configurations to verify data transfers. At GSFC the HECN group also installed three new 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GE) connections between the NISN and the GSFC-local high-performance Science and Engineering Network (SEN) which in turn supported multiple 10-GE connections with the NCCS and several network-test workstations. The HECN group created sample data sets to emulate the volumes of data expected over the upgraded network. The HECN group used the 10-Gbps capable NASA Research and Engineering Network, also 10-GE SEN-connected, to baseline the performance expected and ultimately obtained from the NISN custom upgrade. The HECN group also identified and enlisted the assistance of science users to validate that the data transferred resulted in no corruption of the data and that the transfer speeds were indeed achieved. Within the HECN group, GSFC's Bill Fink deserves special recognition for his contributions in troubleshooting low level network communication device issues and tracking problems to particular device settings.

NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration