Press Archive

ANS and CAIDA Collaborate to Make ARTS Software Publicly Available

Published 03/06/1998

For more information, contact:

Tracie Monk, 619-822-0943, tmonk@caida.org
Amy Finley, 619-822-0924, afinley@sdsc.edu
Victoria Desedaro, 914-701-5339, desidero@ans.ne

In an era of increasing competition among Internet Service Providers (ISPs), ANS Communications Inc. demonstrated its leadership this week by making an important engineering data storage and analysis program--ARTS--available to the community.

"ANS is pleased to provide the ARTS specification and implementation to other ISPs and research groups who are collaborating on Internet performance measurements and studies," said Jordan Becker, ANS Vice President of Network Services. "Widespread development of such performance tools are key to the advancement of Internet performance and traffic engineering methods that benefit providers and customers alike."

CAIDA is a collaborative undertaking among government, industry, and the research community to promote greater cooperation in the engineering and maintenance of a robust, scalable global Internet infrastructure. It is based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and includes participation by several Internet providers and suppliers. ANS is a founding member and supporter of CAIDA.

Under the terms of the licensing agreement between ANS and CAIDA, ARTS will be available for non-commercial use by CAIDA and holders of CAIDA sublicenses. It will be integrated into new Internet traffic analysis tools being developed by CAIDA and used in storing gigabytes worth of Internet performance and traffic flow data now being collected by CAIDA and by the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR).

"CAIDA acts as a neutral party, working with commercial providers and other organizations to develop tools and techniques useful in managing large-scale networks," explained K.C. Claffy of CAIDA. "The availability of ARTS will save CAIDA hundreds of man-hours in developing software capable of supporting our data management needs and our emerging visualization and traffic analysis tools. It will also enable us to collaborate more directly with ANS on other software such as ANS' CflowD which analyzes netflow data from CISCO routers."

"When the NSFNET backbone service was operating in the late 1980s through 1995, ANS collaborated with Merit to provide public statistics on traffic performance and flows across the Net" explained Hans-Werner Braun of UCSD. Braun is a former Principal Investigator for the NSFNET project at Merit. "With the decommissioning of the NSFNET, however, providers showed little inclination to publicize statistics on their backbones' performance. Making ARTS public is reminiscent of the old collaborative Internet where participants felt an obligation to contribute code for the good of the Net."

Development of the ARTS binary file format specification was initiated in 1992 by David Bolen of ANS. Daniel McRobb has been responsible for ARTS enhancements since 1993, and has integrated ARTS into other ANS public code products, most notably CflowD. "ARTS is used for efficiently storing several types of IP network traffic data, ranging from traffic flow information to performance data," explained McRobb. "The file format specification and applications built on top of a reference library together constitute the ARTS package for which CAIDA will assume responsibility."

The Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) is a spin-off of the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research (NLANR), which supports NSF's High Performance Connections program and the needs of the research and education community. CAIDA focuses on the engineering and traffic analysis requirements of the commercial Internet community. Current priorities include the development and deployment of traffic measurement, visualization and analysis tools and the analysis of Internet traffic data. For more information, see http://www.caida.org.

ANS Communications, Inc., is a leading managed network services company providing communications solutions to many of the world's premier businesses, including 23 of the Fortune 100. Customers include leading organizations such as Fannie Mae, OfficeMax and Seagram. ANS manages and maintains secure private corporate data networks over one of the fastest, largest TCP/IP networks in the world - ANSnet. Additionally, ANS is a leading provider to AOLnet, which serves more than 11 million America Online members. Through ANS Communications Europe, Ltd. and partnerships worldwide, ANS is expanding globally to provide its services through direct and indirect channels. ANS provides businesses with fully managed services that include Internet connections, remote dial access and security solutions. Visit the ANS Web site at http://www.ans.net.

BACKGROUND:

In 1986, the NSF's Backbone Network Service (NSFNET) was a 6-node network of 56 Kbps links connecting the original supercomputer center sites; among them SDSC. Rapid growth in traffic along the backbone and the need for operational stability, however, soon demonstrated a need for more advanced network technology, and in 1988 a T1 (1.5 Mbps) backbone network connecting 13 sites was implemented by Merit, IBM, MCI, and the State of Michigan with funding from the NSF.

As part of their agreement with NSF to provide monthly reports on network performance, Merit and IBM collected statistics on source to destination traffic matrices and application usage, using such tools as NNstat, a reporting code in ascii format.

Improvements in router performance and increases in the number of T1 circuits encouraged expanded use of the network by the academic and research community, and in 1989, the not-for-profit corporation Advanced Network & Services (former parent company of ANS) was created by Merit, IBM, and MCI, to implement state-of-the-art networking technology and deploy a much higher capacity network.

By 1991, usage of the NSFNET had increased several fold. ANS was providing a major national backbone operating at T3 (45 Mbps) speeds using circuits provided by MCI and central networking technology based on IBM RS/6000s. "Collection of statistical information regarding network usage at this point was becoming increasingly difficult," said Daniel McRobb, ANS co-author of the ARTS code. "There was simply too much data. NNstat was using too much disk space to store data, and it took forever to generate reports."

"The limitations of the NNstat ASCII file format, compounded by a necessary redesign to operate on the T3 network, led ANS Engineer David Bolen to write the ARTS binary file format specification for storing several types of IP network traffic data in 1992. The primary design goal of ARTS was to create an efficient, extensible storage framework. Early in 1993, Bolen defined protocol, port and net matrix objects using the ARTS format, yielding an 80% reduction in disk space consumption over the previous file format. Since 1993, additional ARTS data objects and tools for processing ARTS files have been created to support the real world needs of a large-scale commercial backbone."

The NSFnet was decommissioned in 1995 and replaced by the commercial Internet backbone; the same year that MCI was named the provider on a five-year cooperative agreement for the new NSF very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS). Like its NSFnet predecessor, use of the vBNS is currently restricted to members of the scientific and research community.

"NSF is committed to exploring new networking possibilities through the vBNS and the High Performance Connections (HPC) program," explained George Strawn, NSF's Director for the Advanced Networking Infrastructure & Research Division. "However we are still committed to encouraging improvements in the community's ability to manage and enhance the commercial Internet. This collaboration between ANS and CAIDA is a win for the Internet community, and NSF is proud to claim that we played an important role in the start up of both of these organizations."