8/01/2006

Bootstrapping

If you are involved in the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid project you know that we are just about a year into "bootstrapping" a virtual organization to operate and enhance the virtual facility we built over the past few years, serving a set of communities comprised of several thousand scientists and educators. We have many mechanisms for communication but most of it is rather one-way, which has its place of course.

Here I'd like to have a dialog about issues of urgency and/or importance to the TeraGrid community, including "internal" staff as well as our user community.

During TeraGrid'06 last month I talked about our overall mission and our strategies, and I'd like to note them here as a way of kicking off this blog.

What are we trying to accomplish with the TeraGrid facility? Our mission is to "create integrated, persistent, and pioneering computational resources that will significantly improve our nation’s ability and capacity to gain new insights into our most challenging research questions and societal problems. " In order to pursue this mission, we take an integrated approach to the scientific workflow including obtaining access, application development and execution, data analysis, collaboration and data management.

That integrated approach currently involves three organizing principles, or areas of focus:

DEEP- To ensure that scientists can exploit the enormous power of the TeraGrid resources (currently well over 100 TF in aggregate) as an integrated system we have staff at resource provider sites who work shoulder-to-shoulder with science teams. This program, "Advanced Support for TeraGrid Applications (ASTA), assigns 1/4 to 1/2 of a support person in a scientific application team for 4 to 12 months, working with that team to harness TeraGrid capabilities of particular importance to their scientific goals. The ASTA program supports roughly a dozen teams at a time, with a goal of 20-25 teams supported per year. We are exceeding this goal, and many of their stories are featured at the main TeraGrid website.

WIDE- For over 2 decades the NSF high performance computing program, including TeraGrid, has served several thousand users very effectively. However, NSF alone funds tens of thousands of scientists, most of whom have computational requirements that do not frequently require supercomputers. The TeraGrid Science Gateways program is a set of partnerships with discipline-specific teams who are providing computational infrastructure (in most cases either a specialized web portal or a community-organized grid) for their science communities. The partnerships involve integrating TeraGrid as a computational and data management “service provider” embedded in the science-community cyberinfrastructure. We have over twenty such gateway partners working with us today.

OPEN- TeraGrid began (in 2001) as an infrastructure involving four partner sites, grew to nine sites, and is currently organized as a set of resource providers and a core “grid infrastructure group” (GIG) that coordinates and provides common software services and support as well as planning, architecture, management and operations. TeraGrid software and services architecture is service-oriented, stressing open source standards such as are deployed with key software including the Globus Toolkit GT4, Condor, and other tools.

The TeraGrid organization is also open in that we anticipate more resource providers over time. In order to partner with the broader community of universities and other service and resource providers, we are working with colleagues in Educause, Internet2, EPIC, and other communities to design, together, a set of “campus partnerships” during 2006. The goal of these partnership programs is to work with campuses (where most TeraGrid users reside) to improve and streamline TeraGrid access from campus systems, as well as to work with campuses to develop a set of frameworks that can be used to create national-scale cyberinfrastructure for computation and for data federation. These programs will explicitly reach beyond the R1 institutions to include the broader R&E community.

That's a lot for one blog post... I'm interested in your comments on any of these topics and will be diving into them over the next few weeks in a more focused way, taking one or two projects at a time.

(my location via Google Earth)

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