A Secure Attribute-Based Infrastructure for Distributed Computational Environments

Arnie Miles, Senior Systems Architect and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University spoke yesterday at the HPC Consortium in Reno. He presented a proposal for a new approach to grid computing to be driven by a new effort called the Thebes Consortium.

A basic tenet of the Thebes Consortium is that current grid computing approaches are failing to live up to expectations. In particular, global grid efforts have over-focused on specific communities, have not dealt appropriately with scale (they typically assume a modest number of large components) and attempts to expand these frameworks has only served to make the situation more difficult.

Georgetown University has created the Consortium (with funding support from Sun) to design and build a new generation of middleware. They are actively looking for others interested in joining this effort.

Philosophically, the Thebes Consortium believes the following statements are true and must be considered when designing a new grid infrastructure:

  • With some exceptions, resource owners generally do not care about the identities of urequire attributes about the user.
  • Resource owners should not require advanced, or pre-negotiated knowledge of remote users.
  • Every resource must be able to enforce policy.
  • Resource owners must be protected from execution of dangerous applications.
  • Every resource must be able to track usage.
  • Users prefer there be no distinction between local and grid resources in their ease of use.
  • Users seldom care where their job is executing.
  • Users should have automatic access to all resources whose policies they satisfy.

And, above all, the Thebes Consortium believes in Scalability, Security, and Simplicity.

If these principles resonate with you, learn more about the consortium by reading their whitepaper here.


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