The benefits of software collaborations

Ruth Pordes

Ruth Pordes, associate head of the Computing Division for Grids and Outreach and executive director of the Open Science Grid, wrote this week’s column.

During the week of March 7, several people from Fermilab as well as our experiment collaborations attended the seventh annual Open Science Grid All-Hands Meeting. The meeting, which was hosted by the Structural Biology Group at Harvard Medical School, was a testament to the multidisciplinary nature of the OSG collaboration.

The Open Science Grid provides participating researchers access to a common, shared grid infrastructure that brings together computing and storage resources from campuses and research communities across the United States and beyond.

The Structural Biology Grid Consortium is an example of the OSG’s success. During the past year, the group has used more than 6 million computer processing unit hours across more than 20 university and lab sites on the OSG and published two papers – one of them in Nature. They were able to do their work using much of the same middleware software used by high-energy physicists.

The US ATLAS and CMS distributed facility groups also held their meetings during the OSG meeting. Rob Snihur, the US CMS Tier-3 support coordinator, felt that the meeting was a great way to bring together the physicists and site administrators to assess the experience of analyzing LHC data. A keynote during the meeting surveyed the big questions of the field of particle physics and suggested how the LHC could answer them. A set of panel discussions covered topics such as the national and global cyberinfrastructure and its future.

CDF collaborator Rick Snider appreciated hearing about the impact that the OSG has had on other science communities beyond particle physics. Those scientists now use common OSG mechanisms to manage peak load problems and provide computing power that would be prohibitively expensive without the OSG.

–Ruth Pordes