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perfSONAR MDM

Interview with Domenico Vicinanza, Product Manager for perfSONAR MDM

perfSONAR MDM is benefiting from a user-focused approach to development and feature rollout. Product Manager Domenico Vicinanza tells us more. 



I've heard of perfSONAR, but what is perfSONAR MDM?

   
perfSONAR MDM (Multi-Domain-Monitoring) is the multi-domain monitoring service especially designed for the GÉANT Service Area (GSA), which is based on the perfSONAR protocol and architecture. It provides a seamless multi-domain network monitoring infrastructure, enabling European NREN NOCs and PERTs to collaborate to identify, prevent and solve performance issues for the benefit of all network users.

Using perfSONAR MDM, network engineers of participating NRENs can inspect, analyse and diagnose network behaviour across the entire network path. This enables easy and swift identification of problems with network performance which may adversely impact researchers’ voice, video or data communications.

Since perfSONAR is the result of a global collaboration effort and is a based on a shared, open protocol, GÉANT's perfSONAR MDM is fully interoperable with similar services developed and offered by international partners, facilitating monitoring and trouble-shooting on a global scale. It is also compatible with single domain monitoring tools that might already be in use by a NOC or PERT.

  
I've heard of this before, but what is new?

perfSONAR MDM changed quite a lot over the last 12-15 months. The service is currently built following consultation and feedback with the NREN. Representatives of the NREN network engineers take part to a recently established perfSONAR user panel which is regularly meeting.
We simplified the perfSONAR MDM structure, making it more lightweight, with less software components, easier to install and configure and improved documentation. Our installation procedure is now independently tested and verified. We are about to release a web-based user interface from which NOC and PERT engineers will be able to have access to multi-domain measurements and run on-demand network tests.

Engineers will be then able just point their browser to the perfSONAR UI webpage and they will be immediately able to get the information they need and perform detailed tests. Even from a smartphone and without having to install any additional software.


What can you do with it?

The perfSONAR MDM service is built using a modular architecture, and this gives NRENs the flexibility to install and maintain locally just the software that delivers the functionalities that they require. It is currently designed to support three use cases:

- Multi-domain network troubleshooting
- Multi-domain circuit monitoring (dynamically and statically provisioned) 
- Multi-domain performance service quality verification 

During the last weeks, we had a chance to collaborate with a user community in RNP (the Brasilian NREN), for an intercontinental troubleshooting. The reason was to provide some support with an event in Barcelona, a “distributed” dance performance hosted at the “Gran Teatre del Liceu” on 15th June, with dancers live on stage in Spain and Brazil, connected using R&E networks. Technically speaking it was an interactive multi-site performance event, and it required high quality networking to transport UDP audio/video signals over a dozen-thousand kilometre shared transatlantic IP connection. Providing a reliable monitoring infrastructure over such a big distance for a crucial event seemed to be really interesting and we immediately started to plan using perfSONAR MDM to help with the actual link assessment (and possibly with any involved troubleshooting).

The GÉANT perfSONAR deployment team contacted the involved NREN in Europe and in Brazil (RedIRIS and RNP respectively). RedIRIS is one of the European NREN that already has a fully-fledged perfSONAR deployment. RNP is one of the perfSONAR consortium member and they deployed the latest release of perfSONAR MDM as part of this international troubleshooting experience. They were able to follow the documentation and install some perfSONAR components (BWCTL MPs) on virtual machines and physical servers and they got the whole infrastructure up and running in a few days. A customised version of perfSONAR UI was prepared in half a day, showing just the nodes involved in this troubleshooting (as visible in the screenshot below):

 

Once the infrastructure was up and running, the Brazilian and Spanish engineers started assessing the link and they actually spotted a bandwidth problem. Using perfSONAR they managed to identify the bottleneck and they were able to fix the problem in time for the actual performance, which went down really well.

This troubleshooting collaboration showed how perfSONAR MDM can successfully help finding and fixing network problems for links crossing several domains over 6500+ Km. It also showed how precious such a service can be when different time zones are involved; once the infrastructure is deployed the engineers had the possibility to run tests on demand and have access to historical results without having to make phone calls or ask special permission. The dancing event was a success and this proves how important an effective multi-domain monitoring system can be for the R&E networking community.

  
Why do we need a special European perfSONAR?

 
perfSONAR MDM is designed, developed and implemented around the network monitoring needs of the GÉANT community. It is more than just a collection of software packages, it is a collaboratively delivered monitoring service for our NOC and PERT engineers. Its strength is being based on open, widely accepted monitoring standards like the OGF NM-WG one, internationally recognised and adopted.

Finally, GÉANT is part of a global networking community, being connected to sister research and education networks in the world. perfSONAR MDM is then designed to be part of a global monitoring infrastructure community, accurately engineered to be interoperable with the other major perfSONAR implementations in the world. As an example our network engineers can now troubleshoot issues from Barcelona to Sao Paolo, from Paris to San Francisco, from Tromsoe to Houston, in a couple of clicks, from the same tool, at any time, with no phone calls.

All this will ensure reliable seamless network monitoring and troubleshooting, crossing domains, oceans and continents.


Get me started, where do I find things?
  

For more information a good starting point is the brand new perfSONAR MDM website: http://perfsonar.geant.net.
You can follow perfSONAR MDM on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/perfSONARMDM.
If you work for a NREN and you would like to join the perfSONAR MDM deployment, please contact us from here: http://www.geant.net/Pages/contactus.aspx

Finally, if you would like to know more about the perfSONAR consortium and the global perfSONAR activities you might be interested in https://www.perfsonar.net