University of York Department of Biology to install Vita Nuova's Inferno Grid

York 04 May 2004The University of York Department of Biology, England has installed Vita Nuova's Inferno Grid to aid their research. The Inferno Grid will be used to support distributed computation for sequence matching using BLAST and biomolecular simulations using CHARMM or Chemistry at HARvard Molecular Mechanics.


The Inferno Grid co-ordinates the execution of applications such as BLAST and CHARMM across clusters of UNIX, Linux and Windows machines. The computing power can come from either dedicated computing clusters or the Inferno Grid will use idle cycles from under-utilised workstations. The Inferno Grid comes complete with easy to use Grid management tools that enable jobs to be started, stopped, suspended and resumed. Graphical interfaces provide administrators with a real-time analysis of the "state of the Grid".

"Distributed (Grid) computing has developed a reputation for being hard to do right, particularly to support existing applications across existing computing infrastructure", stated Dr. Leo Caves, University of York Department of Biology. "As bio-scientists we are interested in computing to support our research, rather than it becoming the subject of our research. Our experience with Vita Nuova, is that the Inferno Grid is a natural solution for Grid-based computing. The ease of deployment, its flexibility and robustness are testament to this. We will continue to work with Vita Nuova to explore the possibilities for Inferno in bio-computing."

"It has been very satisfying to collaborate with the Department of Biology to solve a real problem", stated Michael Jeffrey CEO of Vita Nuova. "The installation of the Inferno Grid and the integration of BLAST and CHARMM was accomplished in a day; neither application had to be modified to take advantage of the Inferno Grid. We will continue to extend the range of applications supported by the Inferno Grid and to work with York and other Universities to provide efficacious solutions to their distribution problems."

Vita Nuova is targeting the life and bio-science companies amongst others for whom the management of their computation resources is an important challenge. The company expects to see more general application of its Grid technology in the area of Data Grids and Instrument Grids. A collection of Grid demonstrations is available on the Vita Nuova Web site that illustrate how Inferno can be used to access resources as varied as computation, services, data and devices that are distributed around the network. Inferno itself is free to download.

The Inferno system was originally created and developed at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs within the Software Sciences Research Group; the same group that created the UNIX operating system and C programming language. The technology is now deployed and developed by Vita Nuova. The operating system is highly portable running not just on top of existing operating systems but also on bare hardware and is uniquely effective for the construction of distributed systems involving heterogeneous collections of computers and environments. There is no need to replace the existing investment in hardware and operating systems.

The Department of Biology at York is one of the United Kingdom's leading centres for research and teaching across the entire spectrum of the biological sciences. Its international research programmes attract GBP8 million per year of external funding, employ nearly 300 scientists and were rated 5 in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. In 2002, it moved into new GBP25 million laboratories funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council under the Joint Infrastructure Fund programme, with additional support from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Leslie Versweyveld

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