The number of users profiting from the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) is a strong indicator of the success and uptake of our e-infrastructure by the research communities. While the importance of this metric is apparent, obtaining the number of EGI users is quite a challenge due to the various ways the users can interact with our services.
The access to the e-infrastructure is traditionally granted to those who hold a personal grid certificate issued by a recognized certification authority. With a personal certificate one can register to a Virtual Organization (VO) and afterwords have access to the hardware, software and support resources that this VO offers for members.
The Operations Portal
, where the VOs are registered and classified into scientific disciplines, is the official tool providing statistics about users. However, current tool architecture and services cannot provide a complete picture of EGI users due to a series of issues, inherent to distributed systems and novel ways of infrastructure access. A in depth analysis on the issues encountered and strategies put in place to solve them will be presented in the EGI Community Forum 2012
are an emerging interface for communities to engage more actively with the e-infrastructure. They provide easy to use customised interfaces for scientific users, and lower the barriers for them by eliminating the need of having a personal certificate and membership in a VO. Scientific software ported to the grid is offered as a service by portals hosted by the gateways; submitting a job to the grid is at a distance of a few mouse clicks. These grid enabled services are often coupled to automated clients, also known as robots. The robots interact with the underlying grid infrastructure on behalf of the user: authentication, job submission/retrieval and data transfer operations are performed with a “robot certificate” instead of the users’ personal certificates. Because these gateways significantly simplify infrastructure access, there is no doubt that a growing number of users are accessing EGI resources tthis way. These users are not necessarily registered to a VO, and thus are invisible to the Operations Portal. It’s time to find out more about them!
There are more than fifty robots
operating in the EGI infrastructure across several VOs, and the tendency shows an increase of need for users and grid operators to use robots in more National Grid Infrastructures
. Since there is no automatic way of collecting the number of users making use of robot certificates, the data had to be provided by the human owners of the robots in collaboration with the EGI.eu User Community Support Team. The goal is to count the number of users who access EGI through robot certificates and are not registered in any EGI VO with a personal certificate
. Is this number in the range of tens, hundreds, thousands? We don’t know this yet. We just received the first replies
and waiting for the remaining robot owners to provide their invaluable feedback.
A complete picture on the EGI users landscape will help us better understand the spread per scientific discipline and improve our planning in resource allocation. A robust accounting mechanism will simplify the monitoring of uptake of EGI and will certainly support the transition to a sustainable funding structure. And by the way, there are 21032 grid users
with a distinct common name recorded by the Operations Portal.