Monday, September 7, 2009

Resources on demand - close but not there yet...

Following a user request a few weeks ago we started upon an ambitious plan to reserve computing resources on a national wide scale. The plan was simple. The objective was to have weather predictions made using the wrf model on a daily basis for three European cities; Athens, Barcelona and Lisbon. As this model is parallelized using the MPI library we needed enough resources on three separate Grid sites. We forwarded this request to our national NGI (HellasGrid) which in turn arranged for the reservation of the resources and voila: a total of 36 physical cores was daily reserved for our user experiment which we came to know as the Thermopolis Project.

The outcome of this project was very successful. First of all, the reservation policies were quickly arranged by the Grid site administrators and secondly the overall calculations were completed more or less in time thus qualifying as predictions and not just calculations.

It is thus good to know that such reservation policies can be arranged in coordination with the NGI even though there is still ground to cover until we reach the point where a user will have resources on demand. Actually I am not sure if this is the point we want to reach but if you consider the "Grid will provide cpu resources much like the power grid provides electrical power" phrase that stuck in my mind in the beginning of my involvement with Grid technologies this may well be it. Nonetheless it is reassuring to know that in a couple of days or maybe less a researcher doing environmental or seismological or whatever sort of research with a clear impact on our day to day life can ask for and get the required resources needed for his or her work.

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