Saturday, January 31, 2009

Google launches Measurement Lab

This week Google announced the launching of Measurement Lab. The whole concept behind Measurement Lab is for users to be able to use online tools to discover a number of different things about their computer networks, ISP (Internet Service Provider) e.g. is your ISP blocking BitTorrent traffic, is your ISP piping certain traffic down slow pipes, etc. These tools will be a great way for Wantoks in Papua New Guinea to check what their ISP's are up to. Please note that the data collected from your bandwidth tests and traffic tests is saved for reasearch. I have tried doing some of the tests e.g. the ISP blocking BitTorrent test but at the time of writing this article the servers were to busy due to the high demand of people wanting to test.

The Measurement Lab website states that

"Measurement Lab was founded by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, Google Inc. and academic researchers. M-Lab was developed in 2008 after Vint Cerf and others at Google initiated conversations with network researchers to learn more about challenges to the effective study of broadband networks.

About Measurement Lab

Measurement Lab (M-Lab) is an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. The goal of M-Lab is to advance network research and empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections. By enhancing Internet transparency, M-Lab helps sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.

When an Internet application doesn't work as expected, how can you tell whether the problem is caused by your broadband connection, the application or something else? It can be very difficult for professional network administrators, let alone average Internet users, to answer this sort of question today.

Transparency has always been an essential component of the Internet's success, and Internet users deserve to be well-informed about the performance of their broadband connections. For that to happen, researchers need resources to develop new analytical tools.

That's where M-Lab comes in.

Tools for Users

Many researchers are already developing tools that allow users to test their broadband connections by briefly communicating with a server elsewhere on the Internet. The M-Lab platform supports the development of these measurement tools.

An Open Platform for Researchers

M-Lab assists scientific research by providing widely-distributed servers and ample connectivity for researchers' use. Each tool will be allocated dedicated resources on the M-Lab platform to facilitate accurate measurements. Server-side tools will be openly licensed and operated to allow third-parties to develop their own client-side measurement software.

Better, Open Data for Everyone

All data collected via M-Lab will be made available to the research community to allow researchers to build on a common pool of network measurement data.

M-Lab today and in the future

M-Lab is only at the beginning of its development. Today, three tools will be available, running on three servers at one location, and they will only be able to support a limited number of simultaneous users. A total of 36 servers will be deployed across 12 locations early in 2009.

In order to achieve its goals, M-Lab depends on the active support of additional companies, institutions and researchers, and we welcome input from anyone interested in helping the platform flourish. As more researchers, institutions and companies participate, M-Lab will able to support a wider variety of tools.

If you are an Internet user and want to run the tools, check out our Tools page.

If you are a company, institution or researcher interested in learning more about using and upporting M-Lab, learn more here.

M-Lab Partners

M-Lab was founded by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, Google Inc. and academic researchers."

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