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The First National Research Platform Workshop

by John Graham published Apr 17, 2017 02:05 PM, last modified May 26, 2017 08:05 AM
When Aug 07, 2017 08:00 AM to
Aug 08, 2017 06:00 PM
Where Bozeman, Montana
Contact Name
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The First National Research Platform Workshop:
Toward A National Big Data Superhighway

August 7 & 8, 2017
@ Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana

Chairs: Larry Smarr, UC San Diego and Jim Bottum, Internet2



Background:  The Pacific Research Platform
The Pacific Research Platform (PRP) is a 5-year NSF cooperative agreement to improve the end-to-end high-speed networking data transfer capabilities in collaborative, big-data science. The main focus of the PRP project is to build, test, and coordinate a researcher-defined and data-focused network whose requirements are driven by direct engagements between campus technical engineers and multi-campus science teams chosen from the fields of particle physics, astronomy, biomedical sciences, earth sciences, and computer science and engineering. The PRP is a partnership of more than 20 institutions, including four National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and NASA supercomputer centers.  


Many research disciplines are increasingly multi-investigator and multi-institutional and need ever more rapid access to their ultra-large heterogeneous and widely distributed datasets. In response to this challenge, the Department of Energy’s ESnet developed the Science DMZ model, a network system optimized for high-performance scientific applications rather than for general-purpose or enterprise computing. The PRP has extended the campus Science DMZ model, which has been widely funded on individual campuses by NSF’s CC-NIE and CC-NII programs, to an integrated, West-Coast centric regional model. The PRP has established that disk-to-disk transfers can routinely and persistently achieve rates of greater than 1 billion bytes/second (8Gb/s) over regional and long distance using best effort networks and standard protocols such as GridFTP.  The PRP has also developed tools to log performance and isolate performance issues to local and intercampus links.  In its first 18 months, it has become a platform for science team researchers who are becoming increasingly confident of its utility and persistence.


Scaling from Regional to National

As part of the PRP cooperative agreement, NSF requires that the ensemble of PRP technologies be extensible across other scientific domains and to other regional and national networks. In response, the PRP Principal Investigator, Larry Smarr, and Internet2’s Jim Bottum will co-chair the First National Research Platform (NRP) Workshop, sponsored by PRP/NSF, in which the input from many multi-state networking organizations (I2, Quilt, ESnet) will be sought and recorded on how the PRP model might be extended to a national scale. The PRP leadership will communicate its successes and lessons learned to date. The Workshop will then focus on whether, how, and when the Science DMZ practice can be extended 10-fold to ~200 US universities and labs, thousands of researchers, and to their colleagues abroad.


A National Research Platform Workshop

The First National Research Platform (NRP) workshop will be held at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana on August 7 & 8, 2017.  The purpose of this workshop is to bring together representatives from interested institutions to discuss implementation strategies for deployment of interoperable Science DMZs at a national scale. The viewpoints of administrators, campus IT managers, ESnet, CENIC, Internet2, XSEDE, and the National Science Foundation will be presented. Sessions of the NRP workshop will also be devoted to science-driver application researchers, describing their needs for high-speed data transfer, including their successes and frustrations. Discussions will focus on requirements from the domain scientists and the networking architecture, policies, tools and security necessary to deploy a 200-institution National Research Platform. All participants will be encouraged to ask questions and share their thoughts on the topics under discussion.


A report will emerge from the First NRP Workshop that includes the findings and recommendations from the workshop participants, with the goal of deciding whether multi-campus/institution Science DMZ practices can be extended to other US institutions. The report will be shared with federal funding agencies and will help shape the work of the NRP Steering Committee.

The Intersection of Two Networks:  Human and Technological

The NRP is committed to necessary social engineering among a diverse group of science, R&E network, and IT leaders, as well as to provide proven end-to-end networking. Scientists need to do publishable science, not delve into networking/IT support. Therefore, an effective national partnership will need cyberinfrastructure experts working with scientists at their interface and understanding the desired scientific outcomes, rather than viewing the technology as an end to itself. Means for the NRP to work with science teams will be reported. Identifying common functionality that can be leveraged between science applications (like science notebooks, containers, etc.) to make the NRP partnership more efficient and effective and prioritize high-performance access to supercomputer centers is key. Desirability for the NRP to host an ongoing forum, to cooperate with technical meetings, and to hold yearly workshops will be among the conclusions sought.


Workshop Objectives Include:

  • Engage NRP teams and collaborators and facilitate in-person interactions (the ‘other kind of networking’)
  • Gain a common understanding of the science engagement process
  • Explore and capture data storage, computing, and networking requirements across five scientific domains identified as initial applications for the PRP:
    • Particle Physics
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Biomedical Sciences
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Sciences (Visualization, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning)
  • Identify common science-driven technical requirements for the PRP
  • Exchange technical ideas for scaling the NRP, including
    • Network architecture
    • Data transfer nodes
    • Software and tools
    • Security
    • Near-term and longer-term NRP capabilities


Who Should Attend the NRP Workshop?

The NRP Program and Steering Committees seek workshop attendance from a diverse group of those who support the end-to-end networking needs of the research community:  CIOs/CTOs, college/department  IT leaders, and professionals who support the particular needs and aspirations of researchers and research groups;  network engineers at from all of the aforementioned organizations;  R&E network leaders and senior network engineers from state, regional, and national networks;  network architects, research software designers, and cyber-security leaders;  IT professionals engaged in the science engagement process;  and those who are charged with determining and supporting network policy that impacts the research community.  Campus and R&E network teams are especially welcome as they will more easily implement lessons learned resulting from a common workshop experience.


Workshop Logistics:

The NRP Workshop will be held on the Montana State University campus on August 7 and 8, from 8am to 5pm both days.  There will be a reception/dinner on August 7th, and all meals will be provided by the workshop, with generous support from the workshop sponsors, including the National Science Foundation through the Pacific Research Platform and Montana State University, and CENIC.

There is no charge for the workshop but participants should register as soon as possible via the workshop registration site at


The conference organizers are not holding a block of hotel rooms, so participants will need to make their own hotel reservations. Bozeman is a very popular summer destination, and we recommend that participants make their hotel and travel reservations at their earliest possible convenience:  lodging and flights become scarce as the summer holiday approaches.  The Bozeman (BZN) Airport is reachable via direct flights from many major US airports and hubs, as it is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, which has over 4 million visitors between late spring and early autumn.