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The National Grid Service: Towards the UK's e-infrastructure. Neil Geddes Director, GOSC Thanks to Stephen Pickles and Andy Richards

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The National Grid Service:Towards the UK's e-infrastructure

Neil Geddes

Director, GOSC

Thanks to Stephen Pickles and Andy Richards

The UK's National Grid Service is a project to deploy and operate a grid infrastructure for computing and data access across the UK. This development will be a cornerstone of the development of the UK's "e-Infrastructure" over the coming decade. The goals, current status and plans for the National Grid Service and the Operations Support Centre will be described.


  • Overview of GOSC and NGS

  • Users

    • registrations, usage, helpdesk queries

  • Services & Middleware

    • what we offer today

    • managing change

  • The Future

    • Expansion and “joining” the NGS

    • Roadmap for the future

  • Summary


The Grid Operations Support Centre is a distributed “virtual centre” providing deployment and operations support for the NGS and the wider UK e-Science programme.

- started October 2004

GOSC Roles

  • UK Grid Services

    • National Services

      • Authentication, authorization, certificate management, VO management, security, network monitoring, help desk + support centre.

      • [email protected]

    • NGS Services

      • Job submission, simple registry, data transfer, data access and integration, resource brokering, monitoring and accounting, grid management services, workflow, notification, operations centre.

    • NGS core-node Services

      • CPU, (meta-) data storage, key software

    • Services coordinated with others (eg OMII, NeSC, LCG, EGEE):

      • Integration testing, compatibility & Validation Tests, User Management, training

  • Administration:

    • Security

    • Policies and acceptable use conditions

    • SLA’s, SLD’s

    • Coordinate deployment and Operations

NGS “Today”





Orbital Dynamics of Galaxies

Bioinformatics (using BLAST)

GEODISE project

UKQCD Singlet meson project

Census data analysis

MIAKT project

e-HTPX project.

RealityGrid (chemistry)

















  • If you need something else, please say!

NGS core nodes:

Need UK e-Science certificate (1-2 days)

Apply through NGS web site (1-2 weeks)

NGS Partner nodes

Data nodes at RAL + Manchester

Compute nodes at Oxford + Leeds

Compute nodes at Cardiff + Bristol

Free at point of use

Apply through NGS web site

Accept terms and conditions of use

Light-weight peer review

1-2 weeks

To do: project or VO-based application and registration

All access is through digital X.509 certificates

from UK e-Science CA

or recognized peer

National HPC services



Must apply separately to research councils

Digital certificate and

Conventional (username/ password) access supported

Gaining Access


registrations, helpdesk and usage

User registrations so far

Example usage over 1hr period 03/03/05

Query Tracking and FAQ’s

  • Provide first point of contact support

  • Contact point between other helpdesks - Or provide helpdesk facilities for other sites

  • Users input queries at a range on places

    • behind the scenes collaboration - user gets answer back from where they asked

  • Develop Support relationship with technical expertise at sites

Help Desk

[email protected]








Access Grid2


Project Registration1


User Survey

  • December 2004 - Query all users who have had accounts > 3 months

    • 16 responses (out of ~100 users)

    • 3 papers

      • AHM04 (2), Phys. Rev. Lett.

    • 6 conference presentations

    • AHM04, SC2005, Systems Biology, IPEM(2), MC2004

  • ~Bi-annual activity hereafter


  • You need a current UK e-Science Certificate


    • See your local Registration Authority

  • Complete the application form on the NGS web site, and read the conditions of use:


  • Wait 1-2 weeks for peer review

  • You gain access to all core nodes automatically

  • Use the NGS and GSC web sites and help-desk

  • Happy computing!

Projects and VOs

  • Just need access to compute and data resources for users in your project?

    • short term, we need applications from individuals

    • project-based applications will come, currently in requirements gathering phase

    • if in doubt, talk to us!

  • Want to host your data on NGS?

    • consider GridFTP, SRB, Oracle, or OGSA-DAI

    • NGS maintains infrastructure

    • you populate and manage data

    • for OGSA-DAI, work with NGS to validate Grid Data Services

Provisioning services

  • NGS resources can be used to provision a portal or other service for your community

  • Deployment and security scenarios are negotiable

  • NGS policies (core nodes):

    • your portal can present its own, or a delegated user’s credential to NGS, but tasks should be traceable to initiating end-user

    • you should not run your own services in user space without prior agreement of NGS and hosting site

      • we need to know that services are secure, will not jeopardise operation of other NGS services, or consume too much precious resource on head nodes

  • Talk to us!

NGS Core Services

Globus, SRB, Oracle, OGSA-DAI, and others

NGS Core Services: Globus

  • Globus Toolkit version 2

    • GT 2.4.3 from VDT 1.2

  • Job submission (GRAM)

  • File transfer (GridFTP)

  • Shell (GSI-SSH)

  • Information Services (MDS/GIIS/GRIS)

    • Information providers from GLUE schema

    • Use BDII implementation of MDS2 (as does EGEE)

NGS Core Services: SRB

  • Storage Resource Broker from SDSC

  • Location transparent access to storage

  • Metadata catalog

  • Replica management

  • Clients on compute nodes

  • Servers on data nodes

  • Issues/to do:

    • licensing

    • MCAT replication and failover

NGS Core Services: Oracle

  • Oracle 9i database

  • Only on data nodes

  • Populated by users/data providers

  • Infrastructure maintained by NGS database administrators

  • Accessed directly

    • e.g. Geodise

  • or via OGSA-DAI

NGS Services: OGSA-DAI

  • Developed by UK e-Science projects OGSA-DAI and DAIT

  • OGSA-DQP (Distributed Query Processing)

  • Experimental service based on OGSI/GT3 on Manchester data node only

    • containment: 2 cluster nodes reserved for development and production

    • will consider WS-I and WSRF flavours when in final release

  • Uses Oracle underneath

  • User-provided Grid Data Services validated on test system, then transferred to production during scheduled maintenance

  • Early users from e-Social Science (ConvertGrid)

  • Established liaisons with OGSA-DAI team

NGS Core Services: other

Operated by GOSC for NGS and UK e-Science programme:

In production:

  • Certificate Authority

  • Information Services (MDS/GIIS)

  • MyProxy server

  • Integration tests and database

  • Cluster monitoring

  • LCG-VO

    In testing:

  • VOMS

  • EDG Resource Broker

  • Portal

    In development:

  • Accounting

    • using GGF Usage Record standard for interchange

The Future

NGS Expansion

Managing Change

The Vision Thing


Resource providers join the NGS by

  • Defining level of service commitments through SLDs

  • Adopting NGS acceptable use and security policies

  • Run compatible middleware

    • as defined by NGS Minimum Software Stack

    • and verified by compliance test suite

  • Support monitoring and accounting

    Two levels of membership

  • Affiliation

    • a.k.a. connect to NGS

  • Partnership


Affiliates commit to:

  • running NGS-compatible middleware

    • as defined in NGS Minimum Software Stack

    • this means users of affiliate’s resources can access these using same client tools they use to access NGS

  • a well-defined level of service and problem referral mechanisms

    • SLD approved by NGS Management Board and published on NGS web-site

  • providing technical, administrative, and security (CERT) contacts

  • providing an account and mapping for daily compliance tests (GITS++)

  • accepting UK e-Science certificates

  • maintaining baseline of logs to assist problem resolution

  • Resources for whatever users/projects/VO’s they choose to support


Partners commit to same as affiliates, plus:

  • making “significant” resources available to NGS users

    • creation of accounts/mappings

    • in future, VO support, pool accounts, etc

  • recognise additional CAs with which UK e-Science programme has reciprocal agreements

  • publish/provide additional information to support resource discovery, brokering

  • ability to compile code for computational resources

    Bristol and Cardiff have been through certification process:

  • supported by “buddies” and NGS-Rollout list

  • useful feedback on viability of NGS Minimum Software Stack

  • Accepted as full partners at recent GOSC Board Meeting



  • NGS brand

    • certified NGS-compatible

  • better integrated support for local users who also access NGS facilities

  • assistance/advice in maintaining NGS-compatibility over time


  • higher brand quality

  • Membership of NGS Technical Board

    • either direct, or through regional or functional consortia

    • Get a say in the technical direction/decisions

  • NGS brand must be valuable to make this work.

    • Total cost of ownership

    • User pressure/requirements

      Why Bother ?

  • Total cost of (shared) ownership

  • Driven by user demand for common interfaces

New Partners

  • Cardiff

    • 1000 hours per week on

      • four eight-processor SGI Origin 300 servers handling throughput work

        • Myrinet™ interconnect. Each of the Origin servers provides:

        • 8 64-bit 500MHz MIPS RISC R14000™ processors;

        • 8GB of system memory;

        • 12GB of local diskspace.

        • 1500GB SAN Fibre Channel Storage System

  • Bristol

    • Cycle scavenging on a beowulf system:

      • 20 2.3GHz Athlon processors arranged in 10 dual processor nodes.

        • There is 240GB of local disk mounted onto the system head node.

        • Installed with a binary compatible Linux release to Red Hat Enterprise 3.

        • Uses the Sun Grid Engine workload management system.

  • Next

    • Lancaster, White Rose Grid, Edinburgh/ScotGrid …

The Vision Thing

  • Common tools, procedures and interfaces

    • Reduce total cost of ownership for providers

    • Lower threshold for users

  • Early adopter system for UK research grids

    • technology evaluation

    • technology choices

    • pool expertise

    • drive interface standards and requirements

Regional and

Campus grids

Community Grids





UK e-Infrastructure

Users get common access, tools, information,

Nationally supported services, through NGS



Maintaining Compatibility

  • Operating a production grid means valuing robustness and reliability over fashion.

  • NGS cares about:

    • alignment/compatibility with leading international Grid efforts

    • special requirements of UK e-Science community

    • easy migration/upgrade paths

    • proven robustness/reliability

    • based on standards or standards-track specifications

  • NGS cannot support everything

  • Everyone wants service-oriented grids

    • but still settling out: WS-I, WS-I+, OGSI, WSRF, GT3, GT4, gLite

  • Caution over OGSI/WSRF has led to wide convergence on GT2 for production grids and hence some inter-Grid compatibility

    • but there are potentially divergent forces at work

  • Significant changes to NGS Minimum Software Stack will require approval by NGS Management Board on conservative time scales

Strategic Framework

  • GOSC/NGS  UK e-Science project

    • support other UK (e-)science projects

  • International Compatibility

    • EGEE

      • European infrastructure (and possible funding)

      • LHC at most UK universities

        • only user group who want to build the grid

        • GridPP committed to common w/s plan in 2005

      • GEANT

    • Others

      • TeraGrid – US cyberinfrastructure $$$ (unlikely to pay us)

      • Open Science Grid – will develop compatibility with LCG

      • RoW e.g. China

    • Want use other software, but must be EGEE compatible

    • Also driven by user requirements

    • Sets framework for relationship with OMII and others

  • Other factors

    • JISC and Shibboleth

gLite and Web-Services

  • EGEE is about production, not R&D

    • EGEE has to deploy production quality middleware now

  • We believe that Web-Services will be a key technology for gLite (EGEE Grid middleware)

    • Need to convince users (SOAP performance!)

  • Since standards haven’t solidified yet, EGEE is however taking a cautious approach towards WS-*

    • No WSRF, Not even WS-Addressing

    • Not a problem in a LCG2 (close community)

  • We are committed to WS-I (Basic Profile) compliance to maximise interoperability

    • Benefit to users not apparent now

  • More WS-* standards will be used as their maturity is demonstrated

GOSC Management Board - NGS Status

LCG/EGEE Resources: Feb 2005

  • Country providing resources

  • Country anticipating joining

  • In LCG-2/EGEE:

  • 113 sites, 30 countries

  • >10,000 cpu

  • ~5 PB storage

  • Includes non-EGEE sites:

  • 9 countries

  • 18 sites


  • HEP Applications

  • Biomed Applications

    • imaging, drug discover

    • mri simulation

    • protein sequence analyis

  • Generic Applications

    • Earth Observation, Seismology, Hydrology, Climate, Geosciences

    • Computational Chemistry

    • Astrophysics

  • Applications “behind the corner”

    • R-DIG

    • BioDCV

EGEE Third Conference, Athens, 19.04.2005

Earth Science Achievements

ES: Earth Observation, Seismology, Hydrology, Climate, Geosciences

  • 12 Institutes, 1 Organisation, 2 Private companies

  • ESR (Earth Sciences Research) VO at SARA 23 registered users from 8 countries (CH, D, F, I, NL, SK, Ru) + ~8 asking certificates.

  • EGEODE (Expanding GEOsciences on DEmand) VO at IN2P3 (Lyon), 5 registered users.


  • Retrieval of 1 year of Ozone profiles from Satellite GOME data with NNO algorithm i.e. 6746 orbits in 181 jobs: success rate 100%

  • Validation of 7 years of GOME Ozone profiles retrieved with 2 Versions of NNO algorithms and several months of OPERA i.e. 228000 files

  • Determination of Earth Quake mechanisms for 5 recent ones – one case 24h after its occurrence (Challenge fulfilled )

  • Successful run of a complex MPI application on 5 sites (CCG, CPPM, LAL, NIKHEF, and SCAI) with 16 CPUs; this application ran with >1000CPUs  good benchmark

EGEE Third Conference, Athens, 19.04.2005

Earth Science Achievements

  • Water management of coastal water in Mediterranean area: transfer application from Gilda to EGEE; other application under development

  • Flood prediction: difficulty to transfer application from CrossGrid to EGEE

  • Climate: Different technologies for secure (meta-)data access evaluated and first tests using ERA40 data and a climate data operator package performed.

  • Geosciences: nearly complete deployment of Geocluster (400 modules);

    • Home-made solution for license management

  • Requirements:

  • Data, metadata and license : security and restriction access

  • Web-service based interface : example -difference with Cross Grid

  • Accounting

  • MPI: homogeneous environments, more CPUs

EGEE Third Conference, Athens, 19.04.2005

Process for Moving Forward

  • New developments evaluated by ETF

    • must have some longer term support likely

  • User requests treated on case by case basis

  • NGS Technical Board consider against needs

    • user demand

    • new functionality

    • improved functionality

    • improved security/performace/managability

  • Proposal brought to GOSC Board

    • Prepared by GOSC “executive”

    • N.Geddes, S.Pickles, A.Richards, S.Newhouse

“User requests treated on case by case basis”

  • Already see users running web services in user space

  • Exactly what we want … but …

    • Potential security risks

      • Change Conditions of Use to reflect user responsibilities

      • Require secured web services (X509)

      • Encourage auditing and audit trails

        • With time limits

    • Services run “at risk”

    • Services lead to significant system load

      • run on head node (or other specialised node)

    • Full support only when “approved”


  • Little demand for GT4

    • expect usability much better than GT3

    • Watching brief, OGSA-DAI or TeraGrid users may drive this

  • Indications of Glite improvements in

    • VOMS, RB, shell, File i/o, data catalog

    • unlikely to have full ETF assessment by End March

    • unlikely to all be robust before Q4

  • OMII job submission

    • expect good usability, limited functionality

    • run as user services

    • problems integrating into Resource Broker and Accounting ?

  • Net result likely to be a vague w/s plan

    • Hopefully able to focus on some key components



  • 4 core nodes operational

  • 2+2 Partners

  • 150 Users registered (50 since 1 September ’04)

  • Grid enabled – Globus v2 (VDT distribution v1.2) at present

  • BDII information service (GLUE + MDS Schemas)

  • Data Services – SRB, Oracle, OGSA-DAI

  • Growing base of user applications

  • MyProxy and CA services

  • VO Management Software – LCG-VO

  • User support: Helpdesk


  • Other Middleware [gLite/OMII etc…]

  • NGS Portal

  • Resource Broker

  • SRB production service

  • Accounting

  • Continued expansion

  • Providing computing, data, and facility access for a wide range of users

The end…

EDS is Transforming Clients to Agile Enterprise – Virtualised Computing Platform

EDS Services Transition Roadmap

Step 6: Grid

Reduce Risk

Step 5: Utility Service

  • Agility Drivers

    • Standards

    • Visibility

    • Quality

    • Security

    • Efficiency

Improve Utilisation

Improve Scalability, Service Quality/Levels, Productivity & more

Step 4: Virtual Service Suite

Step 3: Automated Operations & Managed Storage

Reduce TCO

Step 2: Consolidate (Server, Network, Storage, etc)

Step 1: Migrate & Manage (Regional Facilities)

GOSC Management Board - NGS Status

The GOSC Board

Director, GOSC (Chair)Neil Geddes

Technical Director, GOSCStephen Pickles

Collaborating Institutions

CCLRCProf. Ken Peach

LeedsProf. Peter Dew

OxfordProf. Paul Jeffreys

ManchesterMr. Terry Hewitt

Edinburgh/NeSCProf. Malcolm Atkinson


London Collegetbd

ETF ChairDr. Stephen Newhouse

GridPP Project LeaderProf. Tony Doyle

OMII DirectorDr. Alistair Dunlop

EGEE UK+I Federation Leader Dr. Robin Middleton

HEC LiaisonMr. Hugh Pilcher-Clayton

Also invited

e-Science User Board Chair. Prof. Jeremy Frey

Director, e-Science Core ProgrammeDr. Anne Trefethen 

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