IDGF-SP is a project managed by the IDGF-SP consortium. IDGF-SP is supported by the FP7 Capacities Programme under grant agreement nr RI-312297. © IDGF-SP Website and IDGF-SP: IDGF-SP Consortium - 2012.
There are over a billion PCs in the world. Most of these PCs can be found in citizens' homes and, to a lesser extent, in companies and universities. Most of these computers remain idle most of the time. About 1 million of them are active in supporting science in a volunteer computing grid and use their idle time to run scientific applications. The potential growth of this computing capacity is enormous. Many Desktop Grids have therefore decided to found the International Desktop Grid Federation (IDGF) to help each other improving their e- Infrastructures.
The IDGF-Support Project is giving the IDGF a boost in two important areas. Firstly it helps considerably with increasing the number of citizens that donate computing time to e-Science. It will do so by targeted communication activities and setting-up a network of "ambassadors". Secondly it helps universities' e-infrastructures to include otherwise idle PCs from their class rooms and offices. In addition IDGF-SP collects and analyses data that will help deploying idle PCs in an effective and energy efficient way. It has been shown that Desktop Grids can contribute to Green IT if used in the correct way. IDGF-SP is collecting data to underpin and advocate best practices.
As a result of IDGF-SP, the number of citizen volunteers donating computing to e-Science will increase significantly. By employing unused PCs in private Desktop Grid, universities and other research organizations, will save on their costs on providing computer capacity for their scientists. IDGF-SP will help strengthening the co-operation amongst Desktop Grid e- Infrastructure operators. IDGF-SP will encourage and help IDGF Desktop Grid providers to integrate their infrastructures into the main e-Science environment. The existence of a lively active IDGF community assures the swift take-up of the IDGF-SP project results.
During its first project year, IDGF-SP project has maintained and updated the Desktop Grid infrastructure, its connections with other distributed computing infrastructures (Grids and Clouds), and expanded the documentation. The core IDGF-SP infrastructure now consists of Desktop Grids from the partners, SZTAKI Desktop Grid, AlmereGrid, Charity Engine, ABC@home; and University of Westminster local desktop Grid, one general purpose Grid that is called EDGeS@home, and one dedicated for low-energy computing studies from SONY CSL. In total this core eInfrastructure have hundreds of thousand computers attached. In addition, IDGF-SP also did give support to other members of IDGF with setting up and maintaining Desktop Grids, including in Russian Federation and South-East Asia.
Several Desktop Grids are connected by Bridges to the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI). This allows researchers from all over Europe to easily submit jobs to volunteer desktop grids, or use spare capacities of the EGI infrastructure by volunteer projects. IDGF-SP has considerably improved the Bridge and virtualisation solutions and the related processes. Now it became easier to submit jobs, moreover accounting, support mechanism, and security adhere to the strict EGI requirements.
A document with best practices has been written that helps distributed computing infrastructure operators to set-up and install bridged desktop grids or simple deploy it automatically on-demand in the cloud.
Through collaborations with EGI and scientific communities, a number of killer applications have been prepared that will be used to attract more citizens in 2014. These applications will be made available in a relaunched EDGeS@home desktop grid. We will also more and more use "Crowd computing" instead of Desktop Grids. Crowd computing is easier to understand for non-techies.
IDGF-SP has considerably extended the portfolio of available scientific applications that can run in a crowd computing environment. The focus was on helping some large scientific user communities; including the BioVeL, WeNMR, and DIRAC user communities. BioVeL is a virtual e-laboratory that supports research on biodiversity issues using large amounts of data from crossdisciplinary sources. BioVeL offers the possibility to use computerised "workflows" (series of data analysis steps) to process data, be that from one's own research and/or from existing sources.
WeNMR is a Virtual Research Community supported by EGI, the largest one within the life science area. WeNMR aims at bringing together complementary research teams in the structural biology and life science area into a virtual research community at a worldwide level and provide them with a platform integrating and streamlining the computational approaches.
The DIRAC (Distributed Infrastructure with Remote Agent Control) project is a complete Grid solution for a community of users needing access to distributed computing resources. DIRAC forms a layer between a particular community and various compute resources to allow optimized, transparent and reliable usage. It is used in high-energy physics communities.
Comparisons of Desktop Grids with cloud computing and traditional centres are often made. Good data that can be used to make a fair comparison was largely lacking until the IDGF-SP started. Detailed analysis of IDGF-SP has shown that in comparison to a traditional data centre, a Desktop Grid is cheaper, and in most cases also greener.
IDGF-SP has produced detailed documents with financial and Green-IT aspects and comparison with other infrastructures including the experiments and experiences from SONY, Charity Engine and SZTAKI.
The project has produced several general tools that can help in setting-up and maintaining Desktop Grids for volunteer citizens. These tools will help to considerably increase the number of crowd computing volunteers in a secure and efficient fashion.
A new "Desktop Grid for eScience Road Map" is available to help organisations setting up Desktop Grids. The Road Map has a management part, aimed at management level in organisations that helps them assessing the potential value, and associating costs of setting up or participating in a desktop grid. The technical part of the Road map helps technical managers to actually implement a desktop grid.
Several tools have been developed that help explaining distributed computing technology to citizens. This includes a Raspberry Pi powered parallel computing video wall as part of a Crowd Computing demonstration corner.
IDGF-SP has started collaborating with other citizen science projects, including SOCIENTIZE, helping citizen scientists. In the specific collaboration with SOCIENTIZE we plan to combine the power of crowd computing with direct citizen involvement. A crowd computing programme called KOPI is first analysing texts for potential copy right infringements automatically using citizens' computers for pre-processing Wikipedia. In case of doubt, citizen scientists look to the text to make a final judgement, i.e. human intelligence is to be used soon.
During the second project year IDGF-SP will continue its activities to support Desktop Grid organisations that are organised in the International Desktop Grid Federation. We expect this will result in active user communities and many more citizens involved in donating computing time to science through crowd computing.