Getting Started with ARA Portal
ARA provides a cloud platform consisting of wireless and computing resources for researchers to carry out advanced wireless research. Users can login to the platform with credentials and reserve the required resources for specific period of time for executing their wireless experiments. A general workflow of an ARA experiment is shown in the figure below:
The experiment workflow starts with user authentication which allows users to enter the ARA software platform to access the resources. Further, user can check the available resources and reserve the required resources for the experiment for a specified duration of time. Since ARA provides a container-based resource provisioning, users need to create and launch containers on the reserved resources. On launching containers, users can run the experiments in the respective containers. Completing the experiment, users can collect/copy the experiment-related data from container as described in Experiment Data Collection. Further, the containers can be stopped and deleted from the reserved resource. Further, the reserved resources can be released so that they can be added to the free resource pool.
ARA Portal is the primary interface for users to login to ARA environment and explore the resources. Different components of the web-portal are described below.
For better experience with the ARA portal, use Google Chrome (or any derivatives of Chrome) or Mozilla Firefox browser.
The first step for any user for entering the ARA platform is to authenticate using the appropriate credentials, i.e., username and password. Since the primary interface for ARA platform is the web-portal, users need to visit the ARA Portal where they can see the login page with options to provide username and password. ARA Portal enables two methods of authentication: (1) using Globus Auth Single Signon system and (2) using Keystone credentials, i.e., username and password. For Globus Auth-based authentication, a user can login to the ARA platform using their institutional email ID given the institution is listed in GlobusAuth. A snapshot of the ARA login screen is shown below.
In case of GlobusAuth, select your organization from the drop-down list and continue with the authentication procedure. In case if your organization is not listed, you can either use Sign in with Google or Sign in with ORCID ID option.
On login, the user will be taken to an overview page consisting of a dashboard and a description of the usage of available resources as shown below. Each resource is associated with a host computer and the related wireless radios. For example, the user equipment consists of an SDR, Skylark CPE, and COTS (Quectel) radio. The status Available indicates the corresponding device is healthy and ready to be reserved and used. On the other hand, the status In Use represents the device is busy or under testing.
The dashboard primarily consists of three menus: (1) Project, (2) Admin (for project administrators), and (3) Identity.
The Project menu offers users options to explore ARA resources such as compute nodes, storage nodes, base stations, and user equipment. For managing the resources, Project menu provides three sub-menus for Compute, Container, Network, and Reservations.
Compute: The Compute sub-menu provide information on the usage of ARA resources including compute instances, CPU usage, memory usage, network resource (such as floating point IPs) usage.
Containers: The sub-menu is provided for containerized resource management. That is, users can create containers on reserved resources, access the container console, execute experiments, stop containers, and delete the containers. The page corresponding to the Containers tab lists the existing containers from where users can view containers’ information and manage them.
Network: The Network sub-menu is intended at managing the network resources. The Network Topology tab provides a graphical view of existing networks in the project. The Networks tab allows users to create a new network for the project so that the compute resources can communicate each other through the network. The Routers tab allows users to create virtual routers that can connect different networks in the project. The Floating IPs tab enables users to associate external IP, i.e., other than the default IP from the connected virtual network, to their compute resources (containers) so that the compute resources can be accessed from the jump-box node.
Reservations: Before using any resource, users should reserve the resource or a create a lease on the resource. The Lease tab under reservations allow users to view the resources along with their availability (through the host calendar) and create lease on the required resource.
The Identity menu is provided specifically to manage user identity credentials and view the projects the user is involved in.
Setting the User Time Zone
Since ARA is sensitive to time in scheduling the resources, it is important for the users from different parts of the world to use time in appropriate format. By default, ARA uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for managing the resources. However, users can specify time in their own time zone while reserving the resources. Therefore, it is advisable for users to change their time zone before starting to use the platform. For setting the time zone use the following steps:
Click on the user icon with username on the top right.
In User Settings, change the Timezone to appropriate one and save it.
As far as ARA users are concerned, it is important to select the appropriate resources (from the ones specified in ARA Resource Specification) for the experiments. Since ARA is a multi-user platform, it is possible that the required resources may be already reserved for other experiments. In this context, host calendar feature of AraSoft provides a visual representation of the resource availability so that users can reserve the resources accordingly.
Reserving ARA Resources
On finding appropriate resource from the resource calendar, users need to reserve or create a lease for the resource. The Lease tab under the Reservations sub-menu helps user to create a lease for the resource. While creating the lease users should provide a name as well as the duration for the lease. Further, the specification of the resource the user needs to be provided which includes the site where the resource resides, type of the resource (RAN, backHaul, or compute), and the device type such as base station, user equipment, or compute node. An example for reserving a resource is provided in the Hello World experiment.
Apart from the resources accessible via portal, ARA deployed nodes (e.g., mobile UEs such as phenobots and tractors), as shown in the deployment map in ARA Resource Specification, for enabling experiments under different rural settings. At present, the nodes are enabled for generating data related to wireless measurements. Users interested in such datasets can submit their interest and requirements via firstname.lastname@example.org. ARA team will evaluate the request and work with the users to curate the data over time. For selected mobile UEs (such as the UE deployed on the vehicles of transportation services), we enable the access via ARA portal once they have predictable routes sufficient to enable meaningful experiments.
Users focused on agriculture applications can contact the ARA team at email@example.com to share their interest and requirements.
How to Access the Reserved Resource
ARA follows containerized resource provisioning approach and the reserved resources can be accessed via containers. In other words, ARA enables the users to launch containers on the reserved nodes, thereby providing access to the resources including the wireless radios. On launching a container, users are provided access to the resources via the console from the web-interface or through SSH via the jump-box. An example for launching a container on the reserved resource is provided in the Hello World experiment.
Networking for ARA Resources
In ARA Portal, the network environment for experiments can be accessed via the Network menu in the Project tab of the dashboard. For ARA users, we provide a shared network, named public1 in the figure below, which maps to a physical network. The shared network acts as an interface for containers to access the Internet, however, via a virtual network. The ARA portal offers options for users to create virtual networks for their experiments. The virtual networks can be tied to the containers during the container creation phase and the containers attached to the same network can communicate each other via the virtual network. The following figure shows the network environment for ARA experiments.
By default, a container can access only the virtual network (such as demo-net or TestNet in the above figure) it is attached to. The demo-net is a shared virtual network provided by ARA for users while TestNet is a virtual network created for the project. For containers to access Internet, the virtual network should be connected to the physical network (public1) using a router. Similar to the options for creating virtual networks, ARA portal has provisions to create virtual routers (Project -> Network -> Routers) that can connect multiple virtual networks together or between virtual network and the physical network. Detailed information on ARA network management can be found in ARA Networking.