Five technical goals are targeted by the /Virtual EZ-Grid/ project:
- Construct a desktop grid infrastructure with more than 1.500 non dedicated desktop PCs to provide harvested CPU power for scientific research projects.
- Implement a reliable platform by using virtual environments to support secure computing and remote check-pointing. By using Wake-On-LAN technology, this project will also provide a better control over environmental issues and energy consumption by running only the necessary PCs and shutting down unused PCs at night and during holidays. The proposed platform should give a non-intrusive and non-disturbing experience to the PC users.
- Guarantee the security and privacy of both the PC user and the virtual CPU environment by using the virtual isolation layer property, certificate and proper authentication of grid user.
- Provide a resource-credit system that can be used in the future to evaluate the potential resource-credit schemes that could be established and the relevant criteria that should be used to determine a "fair" incentive taking into account the point of views of providers and consumers of virtual PC resources.
- Evaluate objectives 1 through 4 in a real world setting with two biomedical applications.
The benefit of reaching these goals is to provide a highly available, secure and inexpensive PC grid infrastructure to participating universities and research groups. Harvesting unused CPU cycles from farms of PCs with virtualization technology allows researchers to use their existing code on their existing platforms without any or with little modification. Furthermore, this project removes the boundary between participating universities by sharing resources and jobs.
In addition to the technical issues, one also has to face the economic perception and provide incentives to offer one´s own machine to the community. Defining good practices and convincing users and authorities that the grid concept is useful and can be gracefully deployed at the scale of the full institution, as well as external institutions, is also an important goal of this project. In this context, the results of the project could be deployed on a public computing platform (anonymous nodes). Although this issue is not considered as an objective of the project, it will be retained as a guideline of /Virtual EZ Grid/.
Another goal to consider is the opening of the different middlewares that will be used in the framework of this project at the Swiss level, in accordance to the objectives of the Swiss National Grid association (SwiNG).
Partners: HES-SO, University of Geneva, USI, University of Neuchatel