11 May 2015

Notes from JANET/JISC Networkshop 43

These are notes from JANET JISC's Networkshop, now the 43rd, but seen from the GridPP perspective. The workshop took place 0-1-2 April but this post should be timed to appear after the election.

"Big data" started and closed the workshop; the start being Prof Chris Lintott, BBC Sky at Night, er, superstar, talking about Galaxy Zoo: there are too many galaxies out there, and machines can achieve only 85% accuracy in the classification. Core contributors are the kind of people who read science articles in the news, and they contribute because they want to help out. Zooniverse is similar to the grid in a few respects: a single registration lets you contribute to multiple projects (your correspondent asked about using social media to register people, so people could talk about their contributions on social media), and they have unified support for projects (what we would call VOs)

At the other end, a presentation from the Met Office where machines are achieving high accuracy thanks to to investments in the computing and data infrastructure - and of course in the people who develop and program the models, some of whom have spent decades at the Met Office developing them. While our stuff tends to be more parallel and high throughput processing of events, MO's climate and weather is more about supercomputing. Similarities are more in the data area where managing and processing increasing volumes is essential. This is also where the networkshop comes in, support for accessing and moving large volumes of science data. They are also using STFC's JASMIN/CEMS. In fact JASMIN (in a separate presentation) are using similar networkological tools, such as perfsonar and fasterdata.

Sandwiched in between was loads of great stuff:

  • HP are using SDN also for security purposes. Would be useful to understand. Or interesting. Or both.
  • A product called "Nutanix" delivering software defined storage for clouds - basically the storage is managed on what we would call worker nodes with a VM dedicated to managing the storage; it replicates blocks across the cluster, and locally using SSDs as cache. 
  • IPv6 was discussed, with our very own Dave Kelsey presenting.
  • In coffee break discussions with people, WLCG is ahead of the curve being increasingly network-centric. Still very controlled experiment models, but networks are used a lot to move and access data.
  • Fair bit of moved-stuff-to-the-cloud reports. JANET's (excuse me, JISC's) agreement with Azure, AWS considered helpful.
  • Similarly, JISC's data centre offers hosting. Different use from ours, but wonder if we should look into moving data to/from our data centres to theirs? Sometimes it is useful to support users, e.g. users of GO or FTS by testing out data transfers between sites, e.g. when the data centres need to run specific end points, like Globus Connect, SRM, GridFTP, etc.
  • Lots of identity management stuff, which was the main reason your correspondent was there. Also for AARC and EUDAT (more on that later).
  • And of course talking to people to find out what they're doing and see if we can usefully do stuff together.
Speaking of sandwiched, we were certainly also made welcome at Exeter, with the local staff welcoming us, colour-coded (= orange) students supporting us, and lots of great food, including of course pasties.

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