Upgrading the Grid for the LHC

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Over at International Science Grid This Week, Katie Kahlie writes that the current maintenance hiatus for the Large Hadron Collider provides a window to upgrade one of the most ambitious data grids on the planet.

The challenges for the Grid were three-fold. The main one was to understand how best to manage the LHC data and use the Grid’s heterogeneous environment in a way that physicists could concern themselves with analysis without needing to know where their data were. A distributed system is more complex and demanding to master than the usual batch-processing farms, so the physicists required continuous education on how to use the system. The Grid needs to be fully operational at all times (24/7, 365 days/year) and should “never sleep”, meaning that important upgrades of the Grid middleware in all data centres must be done on a regular basis. For the latter, the success can be attributed in part to the excellent quality of the middleware itself (supplied by various common projects, such as WLCG/EGEE/EMI in Europe and OSG in the US, see box) and to the administrators of the computing centres (coordinated by EGI in Europe and OSG in North America), who keep the computing fabric running continuously.

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