“We’ve found that a lot of network users either have unrealistically high or unrealistically low expectations.”
—Chris Rapier, PSC network applications engineer
Chris probably didn’t notice the slight pause as I took that in, composed myself for the next interview question.
You see, Chris was talking about me.
There’s a truism about PR writers that we come to think we can do anything our employers can. Case in point; while working for a Large Hospital, many moons ago, I helped interview a nicely experienced job candidate who promised us, “I never forget I’m not a doctor.” Walking out to lunch with my boss, I observed, “I forget I’m not a doctor all the time.”
Not so much at PSC. I know I could never do the jobs the people I write about do, because I have absolutely no patience with machines. (My co-workers can vouch for the occasional outbursts of sailor talk emerging from my office.) I think that, as a network user, I somehow simultaneously meet both of Chris’ characterizations.
Yesterday brought the third of a trilogy of press releases we’ve recently issued concerning PSC’s second-to-none networking group, and its leadership role in creating and managing the XSEDE network’s high-speed, research-only Internet2 network (as well as the commodity connections that help us trade email and other ancillary Web traffic). The news is about DANCES, which will help create virtual “HOV lanes” that carry the really Big Data Internet2 transfers (we’re talking entire-Library-of-Congress-scale amounts of data) so they’re not slowed or disrupted by the ebb and flow of other Internet2 traffic.
The DANCES release follows one on Web10G, the ongoing effort to jailbreak TCP/IP’s cloistered—if egalitarian—mechanisms to allow users to monitor and spot network glitches. The idea is that they can notify their administrators and develop more realistic expectations. (Web10G was the subject of my talk with Chris.) Earlier still we reported on our role in migrating XSEDE’s networking to Internet2.
The Bigger Picture, of course, is all about Big Data. Yeah, yeah, the term has been bandied about to near-meaninglessness. But the fact remains that researchers are now generating volumes of data that challenge networking hardware and software as never before. And that PSC is leading the way in creating the networking we’ll need to keep … well, working.