Scientific data sets are growing exponentially in size. In traveling from sensors or simulations to computer applications, storage systems, and digital libraries, these data sets must be moved and reorganized many times. The SDSC SRB has been developed to efficiently manage this burgeoning information over its life cycle. Initially released four years ago, the software has proven valuable for research, with more than 200 registered users at some 50 different sites. In the UK data grid, the SRB will be used to manage data among users in a grid with more than 10 sites, the largest single grid deployment yet.
To support the development of grid computing in the UK, the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CLRC) for the UK has established an e-Science Centre to make its facilities "grid aware."
"The UK e-Science Grid will be as much about data as computation," said Tony Hey, UK e-Science core technology director. "The SDSC SRB is useful for our Grid because it offers support for database users as well as files, which we see as a key area for Grid middleware in the future."
The CLRC e-Science Centre has also established a UK Grid Support Centre. The CD-ROM Grid Starter Kit that the Centre is distributing contains quick guides and installation software for basic deployment of the software being used in the grid. "The choice to include the SRB in the UK Grid Starter Kit is the clearest indicator to date that the SRB has moved from research prototype to production tool," said SDSC researcher Arcot Rajasekar, leader of the SRB project.
In addition to the SDSC SRB, other software in the initial UK data grid effort includes Globus Grid middleware for underlying grid services including job management and security, and Condor for local resource management and task farming for high-throughput distributed computing. "The central challenge is how to make all the parts interoperate or work together so that the systems are no longer stand-alone but form a single, virtual system," said Reagan Moore, SDSC distinguished scientist and adjunct professor in UCSD's Computer Science and Engineering Department.
The UK Grid Support Centre will also provide support for SRB users throughout the UK data grid community.
Initial use of the SRB in the UK will be in a test bed for the Earth science community. One national and eight Regional e-Science Centres have been set up with grid test bed projects ranging from high-energy physics and structure-property mapping using combinatorial chemistry to bioscience microarray data. "The aim of the CLRC e-Science effort is to integrate all our experimental, computational, and data resources, connect them to other sites, and make them easily available to our user community," said Kerstin Kleese van Dam, CLRC-Daresbury Laboratory, e-Science Centre.
The SRB includes powerful metadata capabilities, support for security, and flexible access control for sharing data with colleagues. The SRB system runs on UNIX; Windows 98, NT, Me, and 2000; Red Hat Linux (6.2), and Macintosh OS X platforms.