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Pegasus : P article-physics E ngagement with the G rid: A S ocio-technical U sability S tudy. . Dr. Will Venters (Principle Investigator) Information Systems and Innovation Group Department of Management The London School of Economics and Political Science

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Particle-physics Engagement with the Grid: ASocio-technical Usability Study.

Dr. Will Venters (Principle Investigator)

Information Systems and Innovation Group

Department of Management

The London School of Economics and Political Science

This research was undertaken as part of Pegasus

EPSRC: Grant No: EP/D049954/1


The Pegasus Project

  • To observe the way in which GridPP comes to develop, shape and exploit grid infrastructure.
  • Focus on practice & on the mundane.
  • Advisory Group:
    • Prof. Tony Doyle, Prof. Elaine Ferneley, Prof. Steve Lloyd, Prof. Wanda Orlikowski,Dr Susan Scott.



Mark Lancaster(UCL)



thank you
Thank you!
  • Venters, W., T. Cornford, A. Kyriakidou, Y. Zheng. (2009) "Grids' Knowledge Infrastructure: A case study of the LCG computing Grid at CERN through a practice lens." 5th International conference on e-Social Science, Cologne.
  • Kyriakidou, A. W. Venters (2009) "Distributed large-scale systems development: Exploring the collaborative development of the particle physics Grid." 5th International conference on e-Social Science, Cologne.
  • Kyriakidou, A. Venters, W (2009) "“Clusters Of Competence” In The Distributed Development Of Grids: A Particle Physics Community’s Response To The Difficulties Of Global Systems Development.“, IFIP 9.5 Workshop, Athens, Greece.
  • Kyriakidou, A. Venters, W (2008) "Distributed development of large-scale global systems: Exploring the collaborative practices of particle physicists as they develop a Grid for the LHC", presented at IFIP 8.2 OASIS workshop 2008, Paris, France.
  • Venters, W., Cornford, T., Zheng, Y (2008) "Grids: A Knowledge Infrastructure requiring a Knowledge Infrastructure", presented at UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2008, Edinburgh
  • Zheng, Y., W. Venters and T. Cornford (2007) "Agility, Improvisation, or Enacted Emergence?" Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2007), Montreal, Canada. Best Paper Finalist.
  • Venters,W., Zheng,Y., Cornford,T. (2007) Collaborative construction of grid technology: Researching the usability of Grids within Particle Physics. Third International Conference on e-Social Science, Ann Arbor, Michigan US.
  • Zheng, Y., W. Venters, T. Cornford (2007) "Distributed Development and Scaled Agility: Improvising a Grid for Particle Physics", London School of Economics Working Paper Series - 163, London: ISSN 1472-9601
  • Kyriakidou, A. Venters, W (2007) The Multi-Disciplinary Development of Collaborative Grids: The Social Shaping of a Grid for Healthcare. 15th European Conference on Information Systems, St Gallen, Switzerland. Nominated for Best Paper. Available Here.
  • Scott,SV, Venters,W (2007) The Practice of e-Science and e-Social Science: Method, Theory, and Matter. IFIP 8.2. Virtuality and Virtualization. Crowston, K., Sieber, S., Wynn, E. (Eds.), Vol. 236ISBN: 978-0-387-73024-0, Springer.
  • Venters,W., Cornford,T. (2006) Introducing Pegasus: An ethnographic research project studying the use of Grid technologies by the UK particle Physics Community. Second International Conference on e-Social Science, 28-30 June 2006, Manchester, UK. Available here.
  • Uribe, L.M. (2007) Socio-technical elements of e-Research and libraries. MSc Disseratation, Information Systems and Innovation Group, London School of Economics, supervised by Dr. W. Venters.
pegasus future
Pegasus future…
  • Framework of guidance on Grid development/deployment.
  • Paradoxes & scaled agility
  • “Knowledge Infrastructure” of Grids.
  • Activity-theory of distributed systems development practice.
  • EPSRC bid to study GridPP through deployment and use…
overview of talk
Overview of talk…

1) Grandmother

2) Egg

Insert in mouth & instruct to suck

I would value your feedback/critique

– email me on address below!!

gridpp3 deployment
GridPP3 - Deployment
  • Deployment –
  • Very exciting time!
  • Political and consequential
  • Users and developers wrestle with the technology…
  • Technology “becomes”…
what is ict
Not “designed” to solve “problems”

Both technology and problems are politically & socially constructed!

Relevant social groups

Conflict then stabilization

What is ICT?

Robert Moses

Winner, L. "Do artifacts have politics?," in: The Social Shaping of Technology, D. Mackenzie and J. Wajcman (eds.), Open University Press, Maidenhead, 1999, pp. 28-40.

social construction
Social Construction…

Bijker, W. Of Bicycles, Bakerlites and Bulbs; Toward a theory of Socio-Technical Change MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995.

the grid is
The Grid is…
  • A ‘Physicists’ perspective:
  • “just a processing machine that sits there”
  • CMS:
    • Powerful organisation in its own right.
    • Members produce software to support members.
  • Crab (CMS Remote Analysis Builder)
  • “to simplify the process of creation and submission of CMS analysis jobs into a Grid”
  • crab.cfg
running a crab job
Running a CRAB job
  • Operating Crab (and LCG) within the CMS community:
    • “People learn…by getting a working script from someone… and starting from there and trying to run it and trying to modify it to suit there needs”.
    • FAQs, documentation, Blogs and Wikis are used and developed.
resistance by the technology
Resistance by the technology
  • Inevitably things go wrong…
  • Zero return codes: “Job-success was always Zero, no matter what happened” - “Impossible to monitor what is going wrong”
  • Crab gets blamed … “there is a school of thought that the last letter should be changed to P”
  • Unclear support (GGUS); No “local” systems administrators.
  • Crab creates a barrier… “… invariably problems fall between [Grid and CMS]. So Grid people don’t know what I am talking about… and CMS software people say it is a Grid problem.”
  • Physicists focus on the goal of physics analysis…not developing or improving the LCG grid.
technology changes practice
Technology changes practice

New work-practices & technology…

  • “Just kill problematic jobs which take too long to run”
  • “Being a systems administrator for particle physics must be hell, they will want different systems for everything, and they are all quite savvy, they will tune everything….”
  • CMS community : CRAB reflects these problems…and these ad-hoc solutions…
cms improvising new practice
CMS “Improvising” new practice
  • Grids are “coordinated resource sharing” (Foster & Kesselman 1998). Workload Manager to coordinate this.
  • “VOs can ban explicitly sites so there is a white-list and black-list”. The Workload Manager is forced to consider this list.
  • BL and WL are features for testing/management…
  • But CMS software aims “to schedule jobs onto resources according to the policy and priorities of CMS” (CMS Workbook – my emphasis)
  • Exploit middleware facility for CMS physicists…

If you want/need to select/deselect some site, you can use:

#Ce_black_list – (refuse access to all the listed CEs, allow all others)

#Ce_white_list – (allow access only to those CEs listed)

FAQ details of CRAB.cfg options (truncated)

“In practice the way I operate is; I find out where my data is and tell this Crab tool where to go”.
  • Zero codes: “in that case I quite often try and send the job somewhere else, not use that particular Grid site”
  • “the only way it works is if you find out where the data is and they you tell the thing to send it there.”
  • Doing this “releases more time to make [physics analysis] happen”
  • Physicists understand that this causes problems elsewhere – for Grid systems admin in particular.
relevant social group sysadmin
Relevant Social Group: SysAdmin
  • Grid is shared with other LHC experiments and other sciences.
  • “The biggest problems today is managing such a big infrastructure where there are so many sites and not all the sites are managed with the same level or body of quality”.
  • Lack of data analysis for testing (lack of demand).
  • Zero codes make sense – cannot be expected to understand failures (Abbas 2004)
  • CERN has a large amount of CEs and SEs available, well managed and with lots of the data locally.
  • People feel they do not know who supports what…

Abbas, A. Grid Computing: A Practical Guide to Technology and Applications Charles River Media, MA, 2004.

  • Experiments: “develop independent monitoring systems (…) of the infrastructure as they see it. Not as the managers see it. And they develop client code that is able to do as much as possible in the automatic way of clean-up”
  • “If there was a user sitting in isolation they would have to use what we provide…. But they all work for experiments with lots of influence and resources and everything. And which occasionally, possibly often, have very high influence in some of the sites as well, they can ask the sites to install various services. So they can bypass stuff.”
  • But if this continues “workload management might be scrapped, because it would be investment in something useless”
  • CMS is not alone in this - ATLAS and pilot jobs…
so what why is this relevant
So what? Why is this relevant?
  • Just add another technological fix???
  • Deployment of Information Infrastructure as socially constructed by relevant social groups…
  • Widely distributed systems…
  • No “management control”…
  • Users enrol powerful technology reflective of their practices…
  • Different technology providers…
  • Poorly understood “politics”
  • Co-aligning technical and social elements with the practice of relevant social groups (RSG).
  • Consider RSG work practices and motivation in aspects of Grid design.
  • Consider VOs as powerful agents of technological change.
  • Design support and documentation to reflect the RSG’s interpretation.
  • Take seriously the role of “sysadmin” in socially-constructing infrastructure.

Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

The Electronic Prescription Service will enable prescribers - such as GPs and practice nurses - to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser (such as a pharmacy) of the patient’s choice.

Project: CFH004 – Evaluation of EPS.