HPC Consortium: Georgetown University

Arnie Miles, Senior Systems Architect and Assistant Professor of Computer Science spoke today here in Dresden at the Sun HPC Consortium meeting. His topic was the Thebes Grid Middleware Consortium, of which he is a founder.

Specifically, he covered two topics: The Security Token Service (STS) and resource description and discovery potentially using Ganglia as an enabling technology.

SWITCH has implemented the Security Token Service, which allows users to access remote grid resources using only their local security credentials. With trust relationships between peer STS instances and between a local STS instance and local resources/applications, a user in administrative domain A can access a remote application in administrative domain B using only their local username and password. The local STS contacts the remote STS to retrieve tokens that the user agent can then use to access the remote STS and retrieve the appropriate set of access credentials which are then used to contact the remote application directly. In addition to being useful in a distributed grid environment, the STS approach can be used to simplify access to multiple local applications that have different security token requirements.

Arnie also described ongoing work to develop a common resource description and discovery mechanism that could be used to enable uniform access to resources being controlled by differing distributed resource management systems. His approach is based on the observation that Ganglia, which is commonly used in many HPC installations, already implements an XML-based resource description language and can be queried to extract resource information that can be used by a higher-level meta-scheduler to make placement decisions based on resource information from heterogeneous administrative domains that has been homogenized by the Ganglia resource description language. It's an interesting idea and now first steps have been taken to allow security credentials to be represented so the STS approach described above can be enabled in a grid environment.


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