In recent months, the concept of 'cloud computing' was all the buzz. European researchers think about another name, the World Wide Grid, which could run on top of the Internet. In an article to appear soon, ICT Results will report about the g-Eclipse project. As the scientists said, 'the g-Eclipse project aims to build an integrated workbench framework to access the power of existing Grid infrastructures. The framework will be built on top of the reliable eco-system of the Eclipse community to enable a sustainable development.' The project started in July 2006 and was successfully completed in June 2008 for a total cost of €2.5 million including a EU contribution of €1.96 million. You can submit today jobs to this grid, but read more...
Here is a link to the g-Eclipse project homepage. You can see above a diagram describing the g-Eclipse architecture. (Credit: g-Eclipse project) This figure was extracted from this poster (PDF format, 1 page, 1.52 MB).
As I mentioned above, there are plenty of 'computing clouds' these days. Once you're working with one like Amazon, it's not easy to interoperate with another one such as Google. Even if these 'clouds' merely exist in 2006, this was this lack of interoperability which created the need for the g-Eclipsea project. "As things stand at the moment there are a series of isolated grids which allow the resources of clusters of computers, at different universities for instance, to be shared. Each of these grids is usually based on its own proprietary middleware which makes interoperability impossible. Middleware is a type of software which connects hardware resources to a grid. There are different middlewares available, each tailored for different scientific, commercial or industrial usage. Another barrier to the development of the grid system is its difficulty of use, requiring as it does now knowledge of specialised computer languages and coding skills."
Here is a quote from project coordinator Mathias Stümpert. "Entering and using a grid has been too difficult for most people, so we are developing a system which allows the ordinary student to use grid resources. Until now, these have only been available to academics and scientists able to enter complicated command lines. Instead of something that takes months to learn, we are developing a graphical user interface (GUI) which can be operated by anybody with a basic knowledge of computing."
So how did the consortium develop a middleware independent system? "'You can think of g-Eclipse as a browser for what will become the World Wide Grid,' says Stümpert. 'It searches for and displays the resources that are available, and allows the user to access them. Complicated computing jobs which need more processing or storage than are available on the user's system can be sent to the grid. Data can be transferred from the local computer to the grid and workflows can be managed.'"
The team decided to base its efforts on the Eclipse platform in order to be operational as soon as possible. "'We chose Eclipse as our medium because it allows us to create a user base and it also means anybody in the world can contribute. Eclipse projects are really transparent and open, more so even than Linux, and source code can simply be reused between Eclipse programmes,' [Stümpert says.]"
Finally, the ICT Results website doesn't mention future articles, but its search engine shows them. Here is a link to Foundations for the World Wide Grid which should appear soon.
Sources: ICT Results, November 20, 2008; and various websites
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