Research projects, like those related to high energy, genomics or astronomy, need to transfer large amounts of data to complete calculations and get results in a relatively short period of time. In the past, the physical shipping of hard disks full of data was frequently the fastest option. With the high bandwidths offered by research and education networks the transfer can be easily done using the appropriate tools. However the “normal” tools available such as commercial file storage services are unable to cope with the extreme data volumes used by these projects.
To improve data transfer between different sites, dedicated computer systems and architectures are used to improve performance. Data Transfer Nodes (DTN) are used to overcome this problem. DTNs are dedicated (usually Linux based) servers, with specific hi-end hardware components and dedicated transfer tools and are configured specifically for wide area data transfer.
In the science community many research groups employ a number of DTN instances, with dedicated network pipes for multiple high data file transfers, that bypass network firewalls, filtering services, BGP or QoS restrictions, etc. The challenge that research groups are facing is: “that despite the high performance of the hardware equipment, data transfers are much lower than the bandwidth provided”.
This is because DTN services are often complicated to implement and frequently need customisation and fine-tuning to ensure maximum efficiency for the particular project using them.
The GEANT DTN Testing Facility is a set of three powerful servers (located in London, Prague and Hamburg) that would allow to try, evaluate, test and verify the performances of specialised software and protocols to transfer research data both within Europe and across global distances so that projects can investigate and develop a DTN structure that supports their needs.
To find out more about the DTN Testing Facility visit network.geant.org/DTN