|On Target (October 1995)|
ESnet Especially Successful
Computer Network Provides Valuable Communication Links
In today's changing world, team work has increasingly become the key element to the success of any undertaking. For teamwork to be successful, an open line of communication is needed, but the question is how can a team function properly when its members are separated geographically?
For many U.S. Department of Energy funded laboratories, the answer is the Energy Sciences Network. The mission of ESnet is to support open scientific research on multiple programs.
As a "backbone" network, ESnet interconnects Local Area Networks (LANs) of connected laboratories, regional and commercial networks, the global Internet, foreign countries, and other federally funded agencies such as NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD). It allows researchers to collaborate on scientific research via computer by providing widespread access to research facilities, state-of-the-art communications, and on-line information and related services.
Since most government agencies are facing budget cuts, ESnet becomes an important cost cutting tool to CEBAF and the other network users. "ESnet allows us to save time and money by providing remote entry into a facility's data base. The network's high-speed access and its quality digital communications, such as video conferencing, makes it possible for off-site researchers to effectively utilize the lab's resources and exchange data without leaving their home base," says Roy Whitney, Head of Computing and Chair of the ESnet Site Coordinating and Distributed Computing Committee.
During the week of September 25 through 29, CEBAF played host to an ESnet conference. At the conference members of the ESnet Site Coordinating Committee (ESCC) and the Distributed Computing Coordinating Committee (DCCC) held joint meetings in which issues concerning the operation of the network were discussed. Some of the topics included the developing of a more secure or private form of e-mail system and improving connectivity to the Internet.
"Another project being coordinated by the DCCC will provide a global file system across all of ESnet and to include universities that are working with connected laboratories," says Whitney.
The network is comprised nationally of over 30 backbone sites and is managed by the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center (NERSC) located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. However, according to the ESnet Overview booklet, ".the guidance and collaboration that makes the network a success comes from many sources outside of NERSC."
Collaboration, being the keystone of ESnet's success, has proven itself in many research projects. Researchers from Japan, Germany, Italy, and Brazil used the network to work together on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project.
- David Ellis, Director's Office Intern