Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about GridPP. If you’ve got a question that hasn’t been answered here, please contact us!
What is Grid computing?
The Grid is to computational resources what the Web is to information. It aims to make sharing processing power and storage as easy as the World Wide Web (WWW) has made sharing information around the world. The vision is that once connected to the Grid, the end user will see it essentially as one large computer system so that these services become a utility like electricity, paying for what you use as an on-demand service for academia and industry.
Why do we need Grid computing?
Grid technology is a practical solution to the problems of storing and processing the large quantities of data produced by industrial and scientific communities in the era of Big Data. Such demands are epitomised by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is arguably the most powerful and complicated instrument ever built to investigate fundamental physics. However, the amount of data it produces is massive and in order to process and store it all institutions need to share computing resources. GridPP, as part of the wLCG, has delivered and continues to deliver the infrastructure required to meet these challenges.
What makes the Grid different to the Web or Internet?
The Grid is built on the same Internet infrastructure as the web, but uses different tools. Middleware is one of these tools. In a stand alone computer the resources allocated to each job are managed by the operating system e.g. Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS X. Middleware is like the operating system of a Grid, allowing users to access resources without searching for them manually. GridPP has developed middleware for the Grid, in collaboration with other international projects. Due to GridPP’s open source policy, the middleware can evolve and be improved by the people who use it.
What makes the Grid different to the Cloud?
If Grid computing can be thought of as a utlity, it is Cloud computing that allows users to harness that utility on an on-demand basis. So from an end-user point of view, there isn’t much difference. Indeed, GridPP makes use of cloud technology to create virtual worker nodes on demand within its own Grid depending on the needs of a given experiment at a given time. Arguably, GridPP’s Storage Element network is a cloud-like storage solution. But, fundamentally, Clouds rely on Grids and GridPP provides a Grid infrastructure for its end users.
How are users organised?
The users are grouped together virtually as Virtual Organisations (VOs). Any group working together, no matter where they are geographically, form a VO. For example, there exists a VO for each of the LHC experiments. To use the Grid a user must have a digital security certificate: this is what the middleware looks for when verifying if you are allowed to use the Grid. Certificates are distributed by the Certification Authority, with the person in charge of a VO authorising users (or not).
How do I get started?
Simply visit our Getting Started section – you’ll find everything you need to know there.