European Grid Infrastructure

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8 July 2011
Neasan O'Neill

The grid on a cloud

Stratus Lab logo

Last week the StratusLab project launched a production release of their eponymous software, StratusLab 1.0. This first stable distribution makes it even easier to turn available computing resources into a cloud environment, and in the process lowers one of the barriers to providing resources to the European grid.

The team at StratusLab has spent the last 12 months working with users and system administrators to provide a set of tools for creating and managing a private cloud-based infrastructure. For users still unsure about moving to the cloud the project also provide a reference infrastructure running their latest tools. This allows potential users to see what they can do with the system before investing time and effort in setting one up.

One of the clear benefits of this work for the European grid, however, is the ability to create and run a grid site on a StratusLab cloud. In fact the Greek National Grid already has one of their sites up and running like this using a previous version of the software. This makes it easier for institutes with limited resources to join and contribute to the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI).

Dr Charles Loomis, the Project coordinator, has been very happy with the progress: "thanks to everyone pulling together we have been able to ship four beta releases and this production release in our first year, which is brilliant. Alongside the speed of development is the quality of our product, demonstrated by the Greek NGI using our software to run a certified EGI grid site in the cloud. I'm looking forward to the next 12 months, which will bring a series of incremental releases featuring improvements to existing services and added functionality."

It is not only the developers who are happy with StratusLab, researchers from various disciplines have been interested in the benefits that this work could have for them. One of these, Christophe Blanchet of the Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines (IBCP) France, hopes to see the work become a standard tool for bioinformatics research: “French bioinformatics platforms are planning to use StratusLab to help the deployment of their site inside our national grid infrastructure. This will also allow them to use the flexibility and elasticity of the cloud to provide bioinformaticians and biologists with a simple way to access the bioinformatics services and applications needed to analyse the massive biological datasets normal in modern research."

Currently the software offers the benefits of both systems, from cloud’s ease of adding new resources to grid’s openness and wealth of applications. The team are not finished yet though. They will continue to add more functionality to StratusLab, including the ability to interface with commercial cloud services.

The key features of StratusLab v1.0 are:

  • It is a full production-ready release with many bug-fixes and enhancements

  • Uses the OpenNebula 2.2 virtual infrastructure manager

  • includes the Claudia platform service management toolkit for dynamic service provisioning and scalability

  • has a marketplace allowing user communities to create, search for and share customised digitally-signed virtual machine images

  • numerous Base OS images are available in the Marketplace as well as grid and bioinformatics appliances

  • persistent storage allows users to create and access disks on remote cloud storage resources

  • provides a sophisticated web-monitoring tool

  • has easy-to-use command line tools for system administrators and users

  • uses an authentication proxy service which allows cloud authentication via X509 grid certificates

  • provides both manual and Quattor installation options


Try out StratusLab and find out the full technical details and downloads