Workshop on grid computing for atomic data producers

Claudio Mendoza (IVIC, CeCalCULA)

A one-day “Workshop on grid computing for atomic data producers” was organized at the Observatoire de Paris, France, on the 15th of December 2010. This event was supported by the Observatoire de Paris, the Virtual Atomic and Molecular Data Center (VAMDC), France Grilles, GISELA, CeCalCULA and the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC).

 Most of the atomic data used in astrophysical models must be computed, and frequently, data producers are limited in their endeavors by their local computing infrastructure. Thus, grids present opportunities to scale up calculations and to create virtual collaborative environments that will lead to increased productivity. This workshop was held in order to familiarize atomic data producers with the basics of grid environments and to encourage them to explore their possibilities.  

 After some introductory remarks, Dr. Vincent Breton (France Grilles) gave a very interesting talk on “France Grilles and the French production grids”. In this presentation the relevance of the concepts of “computing as a utility” and “computing as a service” in high performance computing were discussed, and the future of both grid computing and cloud computing was discussed, emphasizing their complementary coexistence and the more ambitious challenges attached to the former. Basic grid concepts, “Grid computing in a nutshell“, were quickly treated by Juan González (VAMDC), namely virtual organizations, the gLite middleware, job submission and monitoring and grid data management. Three practical exercises were then tackled by participants, in particular one concerning “parametric jobs” that was illustrated by Patrick Palmeri (Mons University, Belgium) with a powerful script for the distributed calculation of radiative and Auger rates for K lines in iron-group isonuclear sequences.

 For this workshop all participants obtained their grid certificates from the certification authorities in their own home countries, namely Belgium, France, UK and Venezuela, and became members of different virtual organizations. However, it was found that gLite was the middleware of choice in all of them such that everybody was able to run in their home User Interfaces the workshop JDL scripts. Thus, in spite of the gLite technical difficulties which are usually mentioned upfront, it seems to be a well-established system which facilitates remote group interactions and the preparation of heavy production scripts.

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