Craig Ulmer

Employee Recognition Award for Globus Work

2022-05-17 networks

I won an an individual Employee Recognition Award (ERA) for some work that I've been doing with Globus. At the award ceremony today I got to shake hands with the lab president and several VPs. Here's the ceremonial coin they gave me:


For the last few years I've worked as a "data czar" in a few, large multi-lab research projects. One of the problems with being the data czar is that you often need to find a way to move large amounts of data between partner labs. While some of the open science labs have good mechanisms for exchanging data, most labs have strict access controls on data egress/ingress via the Internet. As a result, it isn't uncommon for researchers just bring hard drives with them when they have in-person meetings, so they can physically hand datasets over to their colleagues. It's a clunky way to collaborate.

About 20 years ago, Grid Computing people solved this problem by setting up special data transfer nodes (DTNs) at the edge of the network that have special software for maximizing throughput on large (many TBs) transfers. They eventually spun the technology off as a company named Globus. Globus acts as a third party that users could access to coordinate transfers between different DTNs. While the free tier of sevice is sufficient for basic use, Globus makes money by selling enterprise subscriptions that have features that most users would want (encryption, throttling, extra security, etc).

Sandia didn't have a Globus DTN, but our networking people were interested in seeing how well it could leverage our new 100Gbps site infrastructure. With the help of a few smart people, we worked through the lengthy approval process, stood up a DTN with 70TB of storage, and worked through more approval processes to connect to a few trial labs. While the initial transfers across the US were much lower than the raw link speed due to out HDDs, we were able to pull a few TBs of data in no time. Shortly after we let people know of our success, we heard from other projects where they needed to transfer TBs of non-sensitive data to other locations. I didn't know about the ERA submission until it was already in flight- I would have asked for it to be done as a team award, since other people did the parts that were tough.