Researchers at the University of Tennessee have released a new set of desktop tools for Logistical Networking that promise to enable any researcher, educator, student, or staff member with access to Internet2(R) networks to exchange data with colleagues around the world at the highest transfer rates their computers can sustain. Logistical Networking combines state-of-the-art data transfer technology with storage resources provisioned throughout the network to create a convenient and powerful new paradigm for distributed data management. More than 20,000 gigabytes (GB), or 20 terabytes (TB), of storage have already been deployed on Logistical Networking “depots” spread across 19 countries and four continents. The new cross-platform version of the desktop tools just released, called the Logistical Runtime System (LoRS), is designed to universalize the ability to use this depot testbed to move large files at high speed across research networks worldwide.
“The release of a native Windows version of the LoRS tools marks the beginning of a new phase in the use of Logistical Networking,” said Dr. James Plank, leader of the LoRS team and Co-Director of UT’s Logistical Computing and Internetworking (LoCI) Laboratory where this new technology was pioneered. “Until now, our infrastructure and the tools to use it were primarily used by our collaborators in the research community. But just as Trumpet Winsock made IP networking ubiquitously available, the release of the LoRS tools on Windows should make Logistical Networking broadly available to users of Internet2 networks. Everyone’s bulk data should start moving a lot faster.”
Many local, regional and wide-area research networks have supported data transfer rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or faster for some time because they are massively provisioned with bandwidth. At those speeds, exchanging a 1 GB file with a colleague in some other well connected location in the world takes just over a minute. Yet only select groups of users within the research community have been able to get such breathtaking speeds on a regular basis. To achieve it, they use tools such as GridFTP, and non-standard modifications to Linux operating systems, such as Web100 and FAST TCP. New optical networks promise even faster transfers. However, most researchers and educators who need to move big files across long distances do not have access to these tools or the servers that support them. They typically attain transfers rates of less than 10 Mbps, comparable to speeds that are common on the commercial Internet. At such speeds, moving a 1 GB file may take hours. The problem for this underserved majority is not the network; it is the tools being used on their desktop or departmental computers.
The LoRS tools solve this problem by giving users unbrokered, desktop access to a worldwide collection of high speed storage depots that form a network infrastructure called the Logistical Backbone, or L-Bone. They combine storage and networking in a special way when the person sending the data moves it from their own computer to the L-Bone’s large and powerful depots. Because the depots on the L-Bone are widely deployed, the data may not be stored on a single depot; the transfer can be spread across several depots in different locations, increasing the speed at which the transfer can occur. Once data has been uploaded to nearby L-Bone depots, it can be transferred between the nodes of the L-Bone at the highest speeds possible within the core of the network, creating copies near to the intended recipients. The recipients of the data are then sent a metadata file that identifies the L-Bone depots on which those copies can be found; finally, recipients can also make use of multiple copies when downloading the data, maximizing the speed of delivery. On the overprovisioned networks of the Internet2 community, each of these operations can easily achieve speeds in the range of 100 Mbps or better. Since the LoRS tools put these operations into the hands of ordinary users through an intuitive, graphical user interface, anyone can now dramatically accelerate the exchange of large data files across the network.
“Using multiple copies to increase transfer speed is similar to what some peer-to-peer content distribution systems do,” explained Dr. Micah Beck, Co-Director of LoCI Laboratory and the chair of Internet2’s Network Storage Working Group. “Our goals are different, though. Peer-to-peer content distribution is about exchanging relatively small multimedia files at standard Internet speeds. We aim to support the widespread exchange of huge files at the fastest speeds possible on the nation’s research networks. For that reason, Logistical Networking depots are provisioned for the entire community within network itself, much like routers.”
A portion of the L-Bone is the National Logistical Networking Testbed, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a donation from Yotta Yotta, a leading Canadian storage company. Other depot nodes are implemented using the resources of PlanetLab, a collaborative research infrastructure located at universities throughout the United States. and other countries. PlanetLab, which was seeded by funding from Intel, has now received additional funding from NSF and a contribution of 30 more nodes from research and technology collaborator Hewlett Packard. As with the Internet itself, some L-Bone resources are provisioned by the nations leading colleges and universities in order to support research and education applications. The Department of Energy provisions some Logistical Networking resources in support of projects based at the nation’s Energy Sciences Laboratories. Altogether, more than 20 TB of storage are currently available for the use of the research and education community; NSF funding will increase that total to at least 50 TB over the next two years.
The LoRS tools for using this infrastructure are open source and can be freely downloaded from the LoCI Lab Web site (http://loci.cs.utk.edu). They run on computers that use all common variants of the Unix, Linux, Apple OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Their use will be demonstrated at the booths of Internet2 and other L-Bone participants at SC2003, November 15-21 in Phoenix.
The Logistical Computing and Internetworking (LoCI) Laboratory of the Computer Science Department of the University of Tennessee is devoted to research on information logistics for distributed computer systems and networks. Information logistics studies architectures and strategies for the flexible coscheduling of the physical resources that underpin computer systems: storage, computation, and data transmission. Formed in 2001 with support from UT’s Center for Information Technology Research, LoCI Lab has pioneered in the application of the Internet model of scalable resource sharing to physical storage, creating a communication infrastructure that can support advanced applications not adequately served by the conventional model of Internetworking. Its work is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Contact: Micah Beck, firstname.lastname@example.org, (865) 974-0455>