iSGTW Feature - Widening the Gateway to India

Feature - Widening the Gateway to India

The "Gateway to India" in Mumbai.

By typing in a simple command on Monday 12 February 2007, Gavin McCance initiated the first file transfer between CERN and India on the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid.

Connection via the WLCG will give Indian researchers the same level of access to Large Hadron Collider particle physics experiments as researchers in European or North American countries.

"It's a good feeling to be involved in a collaboration like this," says McCance, of the WLCG and CERN.

The file transfer, containing one gigabyte of test data, reached India in less then seven minutes and represents the first drop of an imminent deluge on the WLCG transfer service.

Once the CERN Large Hadron Collider is generating particle physics data, the WLCG, which runs on EGEE and Open Science Grid infrastructures, will be needed to manage and process the files. Since the amount of data generated will be larger than one institution could handle, the task of storing and processing the data will be divided among many sites. These sites are organized in a Tier system.

Two Tier-2s

India will be the home of two of the Tier-2 sites. One site in Mumbai, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, which will be the main site within India for analyzing data from the CMS experiment.

The other Tier-2 site, the Variable Energy Cyclotron Center in Calcutta, will be responsible for the calibration and operation of one of the sub-detectors in the ALICE experiment. The capacity of the network, though modest now, can be improved quickly.

"It's 45 megabits now, which by our standards is almost negligible," said Jamie Shiers, coordinator for the WLCG. "But it's a start, and it could soon be increased to one gigabit and even beyond."

Collaborators in the CERN-India transfer. From left, standing, Andrea Sciabà, CERN; Gavin McCance, CERN; Patricia Méndez Lorenzo, CERN; and Vinod Boppanna, BARC. From left, sitting, Digamber Sonvane, BARC; and India Vikas Singhal, VECC.

The test transfer went beautifully.

"We were getting basically the same rate as transfer to comparable sites in the U.S." said Shiers. "Compared to what has been available before now, this is an improvement of light-years."

New connections create new connections

This new connection highlights the growing ability of distant members within international collaborations to play a vital role in basic operations.

In the past, scientists visiting research centers like CERN would essentially be out of touch once they returned to India. Files are now sent to India around the clock at an increasing rate of transfer. Approximately one gigabyte of test data reaches Calcutta every three minutes.

"We've collaborated for a long time with India," says Shiers. "In the last few years this has become increasingly productive-thanks in large part to technology."

To view the current status of this connection click here.

- Danielle Venton, iSGTW