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Feature - Application porting group celebrates its first birthday

Feature - Application Porting Support Group celebrates its first birthday

Gergely Sipos (MTA SZTAKI) and Jose Luis Vazquez-Poletti (UCM) with the certificate for the best infrastructure demo of EGEE'08. Image courtesy Gergely Sipos

The Application Porting Support Group, EGEE's service that helps end users get their existing applications to work on the grid, is now entering its second year. A lot of work went into the group's first year successes - they even won "best demo award" at the EGEE'08 Conference. What kind of an experience has it been for them?

"It was a busy year for us," said Gergely Sipos, coordinator of the porting group at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. "We had to set up the group and integrate members from Hungary, Italy, Spain, France and Taiwan. We needed to define the working environments, infrastructures, protocols and the support cycle itself."

Sipos said that the group tries to fulfill every application porting request.

"As our growing set of success stories shows, we've ported quite a few applications so far." Of about 30 requests over the year, the group successfully completed 22. The rest, Sipos said, were either better suited to supercomputing environments or required licensed software unavailable on EGEE.

The variety of user groups with very different backgrounds and needs posed challenges to the group. Some researchers simply could not cope with the complexity of grids by themselves, and others - mainly representatives of more established grid user and development projects - requested support for more complicated scenarios of their applications already running on EGEE.

In order to meet this wide range of requirements, the group took advantage of available tools from the RESPECT program (Recommended External Software for EGEE CommuniTies), which provides extensions of core EGEE gLite middleware. These extensions allow for enhanced functionality such as complex workloads with parameter sweeps (running a model many times with different values for the various input parameters), workflows (sequences of operations), MPI (message passing interface) programs, portals and interactive jobs.

Simulation of a microwave beam (purple) in a magnetic confinement fusion device, as rendered on the grid via Gridway. Image courtesy Grid Application Support Center

Learning from experience

The group itself reaped benefits from the sheer variety of applications they ported.

"The more applications we worked with, the more experienced we became," said Sipos. "Moreover, because the providers of several RESPECT tools were also involved - most notably the science gateway extension of P-GRADE Portal and gLite's CREAM Computing Element in Gridway - their work advanced as result of the direct feedback from clients."

The group works with new user groups as needed, and will continue to offer clients support during the transition from EGEE to EGI, expected to begin in autumn 2009.

-Danielle Venton, EGEE

More about the group can be found here. For how to apply, see Application Porting Support.

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