OARnet partners to help researchers accelerate big data sharing

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Oct 5, 2018) — 

OARnet recently joined several other regional and federal network organizations on a three-year, $3.5 million grant to help scientists more efficiently work with massive datasets that have become essential to modern scientific discovery.

“Throughout Ohio, and across the nation, we are seeing researchers transmitting an ever-increasing volume of larger and larger datasets over our networks,” said Paul Schopis, executive director of OARnet. “These vast stores of information are laying the foundations for improvements in health and prosperity. As research and education networks serving these educators, scientists and engineers, we have to develop the techniques, infrastructure and policies that will fully support their information-sharing needs.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funding will create the Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC) as a collaborative focal point. The new center will be jointly led by International Networks at Indiana University (IN@IU) and Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), a high-performance network user facility that serves Department of Energy scientists and their collaborators worldwide. The center will allow researchers to routinely, reliably and robustly transfer data through a holistic approach to understanding the full pipeline of data movement—and better supporting collaborative science.

The EPOC center will support four main activities:

  • “Roadside assistance” via a coordinated operations center to resolve end-to-end data transfer problems.
  • Proactive discovery/resolution of performance issues via network analysis services and application analysis.
  • Encapsulated Network Services, via support through the IU GlobalNOC and its regional network partners.
  • Coordinated training to enable better use of network tools and science support.

“At its core, this grant enables scientists and researchers to better collaborate by offering them a kind of ‘support center’ to ensure that data transfers go smoothly,” said Jennifer M. Schopf, principal investigator and director of IN@IU. Co-principal investigators on the grant (NSF award #1826994) are David Jent, IU associate vice president of networks, and Jason Zurawski, ESnet science engagement engineer.

The center will work with regional networks to develop, teach and make available additional materials to these institutions. The initial regional network partners include:

  • The Ohio Academic Resources Network, or OARnet.
  • The Indiana Network, or I-Light.
  • The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (Pennsylvania), or KINBER.
  • The Great Plains Network (eight states), or GPN.
  • Lonestar Education And Research Network (Texas), or LEARN.
  • The Front Range Gigapop (Colorado and Wyoming), or FRGP.

Because researchers at larger educational institutions tend to already have access to advanced networks, the new center will focus on working with small or medium-sized institutions and collaborations that may lack the financial and human resource capacity for more advanced services.

“Scientists in nearly every research domain are seeing data growth from their experiments at an unprecedented rate,” said Inder Monga, ESnet division director. “Many large academic institutions and large science collaborations have generous experience in building and operating a solid cyberinfrastructure foundation for supporting a massive data analysis pipeline. EPOC brings this expertise to organizations that might otherwise not be able to effectively participate in this ‘big data’ science revolution.”

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The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), a member of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Ohio Technology Consortium, provides technology solutions for Ohio's education, public broadcasting, health care and government communities. Since 1987, OARnet has identified and deployed shared services that reduce costs, deliver quality programs, increase productivity and improve customer service. Communities voluntarily participate in the OARnet consortium because they value these benefits and services. Ultimately, OARnet promotes community and economic development by expanding access to affordable technology. For more: www.oar.net. Follow OARnet on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.