Use Internet2 SiteID

Already have an Internet2 SiteID?
Sign in here.

Internet2 SiteID

Your organization not listed? Create a local account to use Internet2 services.

Create SiteID


Internet2 Makes Abilene Observatory Research Data Available to Global Computer Science Community

Posted on Oct 20, 2003 by Doug Howell
Tags: Datasets for Research, imported, Internet2 Network, Network Performance, Performance Monitoring

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 20, 2003 – Today, Internet2(R) announced that research data, collected during the past two years by the Abilene Observatory project, is now available for use by the greater, global computer science community. Already providing support for network researchers at its member universities, Internet2 invites computer researchers to access the data freely and to make recommendations on other types of network performance data that might be collected by the Observatory.

“We hope that the computer science community will take advantage of the data we have been collecting through the Abilene Observatory,” said Rick Summerhill, associate director of Backbone Network Infrastructure at Internet2. “The data provides researchers with a view into an operational network that is often difficult to emulate in a laboratory environment. It is our hope that as future infrastructures become available, we will be able to fold similar types of measurements into the overall Abilene Observatory database.”

The Abilene Observatory supports the development of an integrated data archive of all performance and network status information collected on the Abilene Network with the aim of providing access to researchers wishing to study an operational, high-performance network in a manner not possible on the commercial Internet. In addition, the Observatory provides for the collocation of network experiments and measurement servers developed by the research community.

The Observatory gathers the network data it collects into several databases distributed across a variety of servers on the network. The various forms of data can be viewed through a single, large correlated database that is accessible by the research community. A goal of the Observatory is to provide tools that will allow researchers to access the data in a simple and straight-forward manner.

Data gathered by the Observatory includes:

  • Usage Statistics – the amount of traffic on network links Flow data –
  • data that examines individual flows across the network (made anonymous
  • to protect user privacy) Routing data – where packets are directed
  • within the network Latency data – how long it takes packets to reach
  • their destinations Throughput data – the capability of the network to
  • support flows of information Router data – how the routers view the
  • network Syslog data – what the routers are reporting about the network

PlanetLab, a global overlay testbed managed and operated by Princeton University, is currently the first collocated research project being conducted on the Observatory. It is designed to allow researchers to develop and test powerful, new software not confined to a single computer but run on many computers at once, treating the global network, as one large, widely- distributed computer.

“The Abilene Observatory is now supporting Planet Lab in eight of the core router nodes, and installation of the remaining three nodes is expected in the near future,” said Larry Peterson, chair, department of computer science, Princeton University. “In collaboration with the Observatory, we’re making progress on implementing an interface for researchers in programmatic and investigative ways to use this information to build higher performance and more robust network services.”

There are several projects currently using Abilene data research including:

  • Internet Tsunami Warning System Project, Carnegie Mellon University
  • MINDS Project, University of Minnesota Network Research Lab at Case
  • Western Reserve University The Wisconsin Advanced Internet Laboratory
  • (WAIL)

“The availability of data across all layers of the network stack from the Abilene Observatory has played an essential role in both the configuration of our network laboratory facilities and in our on-going empirical research here at Wisconsin,” said Paul Barford, assistant professor, department of computer science, University of Wisconsin. “The longitudinal network operation data coupled with the opportunity to collocate resources within Abilene make the Observatory a unique and invaluable resource to the network research community. We expect to see many future studies based on use of the Observatory.”

The Abilene Observatory is an Internet2 program that supports the collection and dissemination of network data associated with the Abilene Network, the 10 Gigabit-per-second national backbone network, supporting high- performance connectivity for U.S. research universities and their broad set of affiliates. The Observatory serves both advanced network engineers – by providing a view of the operational data associated with a large-scale network – and, computer science researchers – by providing key data associated with insights into the fundamental properties of basic network protocols, network performance and protocol design advances.

To gain access to Observatory data or to make a recommendation on other data that should be collected by the Abilene Observatory, please send an email to

# # #

About the Abilene Observatory

The Abilene Observatory is a program that supports the collection and dissemination of network data associated with Internet2’s Abilene Network. The observatory serves network engineers by providing a view of the operational data associated with a large-scale network, and the research community by providing data associated with the fundamental properties of basic network protocols. For more information, visit:

About Internet2(R)

Led by more than 200 U.S. universities, working with industry and government, Internet2 is developing and deploying advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnerships among academia, industry, and government that helped foster today’s Internet in its infancy. For more information about Internet2, visit:


Michelle Pollak
(202) 331-5345