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Global Community Attends OSG Consortium Meeting at SDSC

Published 03/14/2007

Global Community Attends OSG Consortium Meeting at SDSC

More than 120 attendees from five continents of the world came together recently at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego for the Open Science Grid (OSG) Consortium All-Hands Meeting.

The meeting, which took place March 5-7, exceeded expected attendance with OSG participants coming from as far away as Taiwan, Australia, Brazil and parts of Europe. Their mission: to learn about the status and progress of the OSG and to strengthen the community connections that underpin the rapidly growing consortium.

OSG is a national grid computing infrastructure operated by a consortium of 14 US universities and four Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories. The effort includes an open consortium; a national facility; and a funded project that maintains a grid operations center, a middleware stack, and an integration testbed, while supporting user groups, education, and training.

Formed in 2004, the OSG Consortium emerged as a "bottom up" initiative responding to specific science needs. A principal driver has been the unprecedented data streams and computational needs anticipated by the high-energy physics community when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN comes online later this year. Other science disciplines participating in the OSG include astronomy and astrophysics, biology and genetics, gravity and relativity experiments, nuclear physics, computer science, and more.

The OSG is diverse, with participants ranging from national and international grids such as Enabling Grids for E-Science in Europe (EGEE), smaller regional and campus grids, as well as nearly 40 scientific communities from a broad range of scientific domains.

"The OSG Consortium is delivering a mature infrastructure for the LHC experiments," said Ruth Pordes, executive director of the OSG Consortium. "And this is opening important opportunities to extend this experience and state-of-the-art infrastructure to a whole range of different communities, many of which are still exploring how high throughput computing and cyberinfrastructure can benefit their science."

The meeting included parallel sessions on both technical and applications topics, as well as opportunities to collaborate in OSG's future plans. Meeting sessions covered topics from cyberinfrastructure and e-science to engagement with user groups, enabling user communities, US and international partners, and hands-on training in getting started with the OSG.

"It was great to host the OSG meeting at SDSC," said Dr. Fran Berman, SDSC Director and grid computing pioneer. "TeraGrid and OSG are providing critical experience with large-scale, national, production-level grids, enabling the applications, research, and infrastructure communities to identify and meet the next generation of challenges."

UCSD physicist Frank Würthwein, who has been a key player in organizing the OSG, notes that the SDSC-developed Rocks cluster management software has been widely adopted throughout the OSG; SDSC is also hosting six racks of computing power and 100 terabytes of disk storage for one of the LHC experiments, which is made available through the OSG.

Grid efforts such as the OSG and the TeraGrid are finding that, beyond the technical challenges, much needs to be done to help communities make the cultural and sociological changes required to harness high performance computing and cyberinfrastructure in their science.

"The OSG is a grassroots operation driven by specific science milestones," says Miron Livny, OSG principal investigator and grid computing pioneer through the Condor high-throughput computing project. "We're finding that the OSG is a unique 'ecosystem,' where partners have multiple roles -- as providers, integrators, and users, all in the same environment."

As a consortium, the OSG relies on developing a culture of sharing and coexistence at all levels, from the community as a whole down to the smallest cluster that is part of the larger effort.

Livny says that having a dynamic consortium is encouraging a healthy dialog on the question all grid efforts face: how to establish the mix of compute and storage resources that maximizes scientific discovery. Groups have wide choices about how they will participate in contributing effort and resources to the common infrastructure. All participants can scavenge cycles at any time in an automated way, and larger needs are handled by consortium-wide initiatives.

Interesting developments are also taking place between grids. In a science-driven partnership, the TeraGrid and OSG are increasing the interoperability of their resources and working to harmonize their underlying middleware, with the goal of helping users work with resources from both infrastructures seamlessly. OSG and TeraGrid are also collaborating in education and training, including engagement with campuses as part of the joint Internet2, OSG, Educause, TeraGrid Campus Cyberinfrastructure days.

For the first time, in conjunction with the OSG meeting, two related meetings were co-scheduled to overlap. The US Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Tier-2/Tier-3 meeting and the US ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) Tier-2 meeting were both held on Wednesday and Thursday, March 7-8. - Paul Tooby, SDSC.