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Fernique, P. & Durand, D 2001, in ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 238, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems X, eds. F. R. Harnden, Jr., F. A. Primini, & H. E. Payne (San Francisco: ASP), 63

AstroRoute

P. Fernique
Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS), Strasbourg, France

D. Durand
Canadian Astronomical Data Centre (CADC), Victoria, Canada

Abstract:

The Internet is now the most commonly used medium for the exchange of data between data centres. However the quality of this network of networks is completely outside the astronomical community's control: the routing rules for each country and the technologies deployed depend on various interests generally far from astronomical concerns. In order to get actual measurements of the fluctuating network flow rates between some astronomical Web sites, the CDS has developed a tool called AstroRoute. Its goal is to supply, on an hourly basis, a measurement of the network quality between astronomical Web sites over the world.

1. AstroRoute

AstroRoute is a system to get measurements about the connectivity and the quality of the network between astronomical web sites. It is an initiative and a development of the CDS (Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg) with the help of D. Durand from the CADC (Canadian Astronomical Data Center). Several other institutes collaborate : the Observatoire de Paris/Meudon, ISO, ATNF (Sydney), NOAO, STScI, and CFHT. This project started in June 2000.

2. AstroRoute Working Principle

There exists a lot of network tools to test network quality, but the main problem is that the tests are generally done from one single site--the tester's own host machine. In order to obtain more reliable results, AstroRoute is based on a set of distributed agents which test synchronously a list of targets in order to measure the network connectivity and the bandwidth between any pair of agent/web site in the AstroRoute system. So, it becomes possible to know the authority that should be contacted in case of network problem or bad performances (local, campus, and national network instance) and to build convincing arguments for future upgrades.

To implement this principle, AstroRoute is based on two elements: a main site and some agents. The main site controls all agents: it synchronizes their clock reference, sends the list of astronomical Web sites to be tested and compiles their results. Each agent tests individually these web sites and sends regularly a report to the main site. The resulting data set can be browsed on the main site with a classical web interface.

3. A Couple of Technical Points

The agent and main site software are written in Perl in order to keep a good portability. The system is designed to take into account bandwidth less than 200 kilobytes per second. The reports sent by the agents to the main site use a simple SMTP mail. By default, the tests are done hourly, and the reports are sent daily. The result browser is a classical HTML application. It is also possible to use a more powerful Java applet.

4. The Network Measurements

AstroRoute should provide network measurements reproducing a current web usage. This is why the tests are simple HTTP URLs providing a static file or image. With these tests AstroRoute records three measurements for each pair agent/web-site:


Table 1: Excerpt of agents/Web sites pair matrix: time connection, flow rate in kilobytes/sec, and success rate.
\begin{table}\begin{tabular*}{\textwidth}{@{\extracolsep{\fill}}@{}\vert l@{}\ve...
...5s/10.5k/5\%&0.5s/$>$11.9k&0.5s/$>$14.2k/1\%\\
\hline
\end{tabular*}\end{table}


5. Global Trends

AstroRoute has been running for six months, and interesting global trends can be seen:

6. Conclusions

The AstroRoute results can be accessed from CDS via the AstroRoute main page. The objective is now to extend the set of participating sites to obtain meaningful world-wide long term statistics, critical to assess the needs for this key infrastructure in the context of rapid development of interconnection between astronomical on-line resources.


© Copyright 2001 Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Avenue, San Francisco, California 94112, USA
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