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iSGTW Feature - Europe and China working together to optimize network layer

Feature - Europe and China working together to optimize network layer

The EC-GIN team, pictured here at a July 2007 conference in Greece, are working to develop tailored network technology in dedicated support of grid applications.
Image courtesy of EC-GIN

The Internet communication infrastructure-the TCP/IP protocol stack-is designed for broad use and as such does not account for the specific characteristics of grid applications.

This one-size-fits-all approach works for a number of application domains; however, it is far from optimal and is not as efficient as customized solutions. While grid technologies and services are slowly coming of age, the corresponding network infrastructure is still in its infancy.

In an effort to change this, Europe and China are working together to improve the network's ability to support grid applications and services.

Called the Europe-China Grid InterNetworking project, or EC-GIN, the project aims at developing a tailored network technology in dedicated support of grid applications.

Michael Welzl of the University of Innsbruck, Austria, is coordinator of the EC-GIN project and says grids are entirely unique from the network perspective.

"Grid traffic is often initiated by machines instead of humans," he says.

"Consider a scheduler in a workflow-based grid for instance; grid schedulers are sometimes able to specify future traffic occurrences. Hardly any other application can do that. When we surf the web, neither the web browser nor the server can reasonably guess when we will generate traffic by clicking on a link, let alone precisely specify the delay and the file size."

Does it make sense to send a large file via multiple paths of an overlay network in order to speed up the file transfer? If the overlay links do not share the same network bottleneck, sending a large file via multiple paths may indeed increase the overall throughput.
Image courtesy of EC-GIN

Tailoring for a technical solution

EC-GIN is investigating various typical usage scenarios in order to derive network level improvements.

The technical solutions offered by EC-GIN will be supplemented with a secure and incentive-based grid services network traffic management system, which will balance the conflict between performance demand and the economic use of resources in the network and within grids.

EC-GIN aims to make grids work, operate and communicate more efficiently by appropriately utilizing the underlying network, which will amplify both the social and economic impact of grid computing.

Zhili Sun of the University of Surrey, UK, is the European contact for the project and says the EC-GIN collaboration will bring benefits to the greater global community as well as strengthening Europe's ties with China.

"China has become a major power in the world-economically and politically-and the Chinese economy is continuing to develop. EC-GIN is excited to be part of strengthening the good relationship between China and Europe."

The EC-GIN project involves eleven institutes from seven countries, including four from China.

- Werner Heiß, EC-GIN

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