Grid Appliance

Grid Appliance
What is the Grid appliance? The Grid appliance is a plug-and-play virtual machine (VM) appliance intended for Grid computing; in particular, high throughput computing to execute many long-running simulations concurrently in resources across virtual machines that can be distributed across the world – including yours! Virtual appliances are a new way to conveniently package software using virtual machines – follow this link to learn more about them. Our virtual appliance connects you to a Grid computing pool in a plug-and-play fashion – it typically takes 15-30 minutes to get started with our Grid appliance, making it one of the most user-friendly systems available for anyone who wants to get started in Grid computing but does not know where to begin. Once the appliance boots up, it joins a dynamic pool of peer-to-peer resources – other Grid appliances connected by a virtual network – and allows its user to easily log in and submit compute-intensive jobs to this pool.

How does it work? To achieve this, the Grid appliance uses three key pieces of technology: Virtual machines, which allow an entire virtual computer running the Linux operating system and our Grid software to run side-by-side with your existing operating system (Windows, Linux or macOS for Intel). You only need to install one piece of software (a VM monitor, currently VMware), in a quick, simple and non-intrusive step. It is also very easy to turn off and uninstall. Virtual networking: we use the IPOP peer-to-peer routing technique developed at the ACIS laboratory to a self-configure resource pool, even if they are behind firewalls and “NATs”.

Grid scheduler: we use the University of Wisconsin’s Condor middleware, a robust system which routinely supports hundreds to thousands of machines and jobs executing on them.

The Grid appliance encapsulates conveniently all the software needed to run Condor-based jobs, right out of the box, into a virtual disk that can be instantiated, or played, with VM monitors such as VMware’s VMplayer, Server or Fusion (we also have experimental support for the open-source QEMU, KVM and VirtualBox). The appliance is self-configuring, joining the Condor pool automatically and without any user intervention.

Looks interesting, how do I use it? Give it a try! Our network currently has about 60 nodes available for running jobs, and it grows with every new appliance that is booted. Click on the “Infrastructure statistics” button at the top of this page for a current snapshot of the system. For the simplest way to run the Grid appliance, you will need two things: first, install VMware (Workstation, Player or Server); second, download and unzip the Grid appliance image. Please refer to the Grid Appliance README for information on how to instantiate it, our first time user’s tutorial, and additional educational/training documentation available in this site.

How is the Grid appliance code licensed? All software within the Grid appliance image is open-source. The underlying O/S is Linux and the main sub-systems are the IPOP virtual network and Condor.IPOP is licensed under GPL; either version 2 of the license or (at your option) any later version. Click here to visit the IPOP page and download the code. Condor is released under the Apache License 2.0 – click here for more information. The appliance can also be deployed using open-source VM monitors. Currently, VirtualBox and KVM images are supported.

Contact us Feel free to use our appliance; please contact us by email (ipop at if you are interested in using the appliance for research and education. Follow this link to subscribe to our user’s group to receive important notifications.

AcknowledgmentsThe Grid appliance is partially funded by the NSF under awards SCI-0537455 and SCI-0438246. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors