Hands on Experience on Building Institutional Grid Infrastructure

Hands on Experience on Building Institutional Grid Infrastructure

Xiaoyu Yang (University of Cambridge, UK) and Gen-Tao Chiang (University of Cambridge, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-370-8.ch015


It will become increasingly popular that scientists in research institutes will make use of Grid computing resources for running computer simulations and managing data. Although there are some production Grids available, it is often the case that many organizations and research projects need to build their own Grids. However, building Grid infrastructure is not a trivial job as it involves sharing and managing heterogeneous computing and data resources across different organizations, and involves installing many specific software packages and various middleware. This can be quite complicated and time-consuming. Building a Grid infrastructure also requires good knowledge and understanding of distributed computing, parallel computing and Grid technologies. Apart from building physical Grid, how to build a user infrastructure that can facilitate the use of and easy access to these physical infrastructures is also a challenging task. In this chapter, the authors summarize some hands-on experience in building an institutional Grid infrastructure. They describe knowledge and experience obtained in the installations of Condor pools, PBS clusters, Globus Toolkit, and SRB (Storage Resource Broker) for computing Grid and data Grid. The authors also propose to use a User-Centered Design (UCD) approach to develop a Grid user infrastructure which can facilitate the use of the Grid to improve the usability.
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“Grid computing is an infrastructure that enables flexible, secure, coordinated resource sharing among dynamic collections of individuals, institutions and resources” (Foster,2001). However, this description still does not give a concrete definition to Grid and people use the term “Grid” with different meanings.

For instance, the most widely used “Grid” refers to computing Grids. This type of Grid refers to the sharing of computer resources, such as High Performance Computing (HPC), High Throughput Computing (HTC), or Condor-like desktop Grids, over the Internet. It aims ultimately to turn the global network of computers into one vast resource of computing power. LHC Computing Grid (LCG), now called Enabling Grid for e-Science (EGEE) (http://www.opensciencegrid.org) in the USA, it is still often the case that many organizations and research projects need to build their own Grids due to various reasons. For example, there are some security and data policy issues which do not allow either computing or data resources to be shared with others, that a test Grid environment is required for testing configurations and running applications before migrating to productions sites, or building research project-specific Grid, etc. Apart from the physical Grid, a user-level infrastructure to facilitate the use of physical Grid also needs to be built.

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