ECE Colloquium - Oct 23, 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Andrew Grimshaw, University of Virginia

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm

CoRE Building Lecture Hall


Lowering the barriers to collaboration and increasing access to high-end resources will accelerate the pace and productivity of science and engineering. Toward this end, the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) is a single virtual system that allows scientists to seamlessly and interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise. The XSEDE project will allow researches to link and access resources at both domestic and foreign supercomputing centers as well as resources belonging to university campuses and research labs around the world. The complexity of distributed systems creates obstacles for scientists who wish to share their resources with collaborators. Obstacles include: complex, unreliable, and unfamiliar tools and environments; multiple administrative domains each with their own passwords and file systems; the need to keep track of which resources are on which machines; the need to manually copy files and applications from place to place; the need to monitor and interact with multiple execution services, each with their own idiosyncratic behavior; and the need to manage authorization, identities and groups. The best way to manage complexity and make sharing data and resources possible on a large scale to provide users with a familiar, easy-to-use tool that manages aspects of the collaboration on the user’s behalf. The first principle of XSEDE’s approach to designing a collaborative interface is familiarity: give the user interaction paradigms and too ls that are similar to those she already uses. XSEDE deploys what it calls the Global Federated File System (GFFS) in order to leverage the user’s familiarity with the directory-based paradigm.

The GFFS is a global shared namespace designed so that the user can easily organize and interact with files, execution engines, identity services, running jobs, and much more. Many types of resources, such as compute clusters, directory trees in local file systems, and storage resources, can be linked into the GFFS
directory structure by resource owners at centers, on campuses, and in individual research labs. GFFS resources can be accessed (subject to access control) in a variety of ways: from the command line (useful for scripting); via a GUI; or by being mapped directly into the local file system. When mapped into the local file system, remote resources can be accessed by existing applications as if they were local resources. In this talk I will present the GFFS, its functionality, its motivation, as well as typical use cases. I will demonstrate many of its capabilities, including: how to secure shared data with collaborators; how to share storage with collaborators; how to access data at the centers from campus and vice versa; how to create shared compute queues with collaborators who can then schedule jobs on collaboration “owned” resources; how to create jobs and how to interact with them once started. I will present the GFFS’s various access mechanisms, i.e., the GUI and local file system mapping; if facilities permit, I will include this latter mechanism in the live demonstration.


Dr. Andrew Grimshaw received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1988. He joined the University of Virginia as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science, becoming Associate Professor in 1994 and Professor in 1999. He is the chief designer and architect of Mentat, Legion, Genesis II, and the co-architect for XSEDE. In 1999 he co-founded Avaki Corporation, and served as its Chairman and Chief Technical Officer until 2003. In 2003 he won the Frost and Sullivan Technology Innovation Award. In 2008 he became the founding director of the University of Virginia Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering (UVACSE). The mission of UVACSE is to change the culture of computation at the University of Virginia and to accelerate computationally oriented research.

Andrew is a leading member of the Open Grid Forum (OGF), serving both as a member of the OGF's Board of Directors and as Architecture Area Director. Andrew is the author or co-author of over 50 publications and book chapters. His current projects are Genesis II and XSEDE. Genesis II, is an opensource, standards-based, Grid system that focuses on making Grids easy-to-use and accessible to non computer-scientists. XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) is the NSF follow-on to the TeraGrid project.