31 December 2018


Traditionally at the end of the year it falls to the undersigned to look back at highlights of the past year and forward to issues in the coming year.  By which we mean technical issues, not political, economic, or peopleoligical - no mention of the B-word or the impact it has had on us already.

Looking back, without the benefit of the archive (an internal network error has, ironically, taken it temporarily offline), one of the significant developments of 2018 was the formation of what is now known as IRIS, an infrastructure for an amalgamation of STFC-funded research communities.  GridPP, of course, is a part of this, an example of how to provide an infrastructure even if the solution would not work directly for all user communities.  Also highlightworthy, the work on object stores, and ZFS.

Looking forward, expanding the work with IRIS will be interesting, in particular the competition for the middleware on top of the IaaS and storage, because the current infrastructure requires a fair bit of IaaS expertise.  Less new, but still not sufficiently followed up on, are opportunities to work on the integration of data centre automation and information systems, although even some storage vendors at CIUK knew little about this, and WLCG itself seems to have given up on this angle.  In fact, looking further back to the early naughties it is remarkable how often the wheels get reinvented, thing B gets replaced with thing C that is a reinvention of thing A which was originally replaced by B.

Coming back to 2019, more pertinent still for the GridPP T2s will be the ongoing evolution of sites to storage sites and cache-only sites, a process which continues to pose lots of interesting technical challenges.