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iSGTW Link of the week - Global Grid User Support comes of age

Link of the week - Global Grid User Support comes of age

GGUS provides user support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to users of the EGEE grid across the planet.
Stock image from sxc.hu

Providing a system that supports users of computing grids may not sound like the most exciting of challenges, but the team at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe in Germany think otherwise, and is proud of their service: the Global Grid User Support System, or GGUS, pronounced "jee-guss."

"Helpdesk systems that work across a single enterprise are well understood," explains Torsten Antoni, leader of the GGUS team. "However, the scale of grid computing means that the helpdesk system must work across many enterprises and span administrative domains, which is a very different challenge."

GGUS began in 2004 as an EGEE project designed to make it easy for grid users to find someone to deal with their needs, whether requesting a digital certificate or asking why the proxy server in Outer Mongolia is not working. Now, thanks to GGUS, users simply send an email describing the problem, and GGUS sends a service ticket to the appropriate person. That person provides the service, GGUS notifies the user, and the user can then verify that the service has been delivered. With 10,000 users in 300 centers, this is not a simple matter.

At the heart of the system is a team providing ticket processing management. "This is a bit like the sorting office in a post office, only we have to read each letter to find out where it has to go," explains Guenter Grein, member of the core team in Karlsruhe.

Sorting takes place at service centers across Europe and in Russia, Taiwan and the United States. "As the grid becomes global, service centers will follow suit," says GGUS's Helmut Dres. "The new centers in Taiwan and the US now mean we can always be awake." In time, Helmut believes that GGUS will have additional service centers in Canada, Australia and Japan.

Rainer Kupsch, head of the department at the centre in Karlsruhe, says he is pleased with progress. "We now have a stable system that processes one hundred service requests a day, and we work to ensure that each request receives due care and attention. No one sends us a service request that we can ignore. If we did, we would not remain in business very long."

The GGUS team will demonstrate their system at the 3rd EGEE User Forum, in Clermont-Ferrand, France, from 11-14 February.

- Alistair Mills, GGUS

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