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The WTCW Virtual Laboratory

VLAM-G, the Grid-based Virtual Laboratory AMsterdam, provides a science portal for distributed analysis in applied scientific research. It offers scientists the possibility to carry out their experiments in a familiar environment, where content and data are clearly separated. Emphasis is put on the development and use of open standards and seamless integration of external devices. It incorporates and integrates the most recent developments in Grid-computing (such as the Globus toolkit), database technology and visualization techniques.

A simple classification of potential users of the Grid has been proposed, where three categories have been indicated:

  • the novice scientist,
  • the senior scientist, and
  • the application developer.
Taking the aforementioned categories into account, it is of great importance to pay particular attention to the HCI (Human Computer Interface), besides other important issues such as collaboration and security. Potential users of Grid technology are not supposed to know about all the computer science specifics involved to realize such an environ-ment themselves. They are also not inclined to deal with the day-to-day operations concerning e.g., security, resource management and networking.

Also, it is essential that this platform is designed in such a way that it can easily be adapted to include either a new application domain or a different group of users. A modular architecture is essential to establish such a flexibility. Sup-porting inter-disciplinary interactions implies the composition of (software) modules, which may have been developed independently. VLAM-G takes this modularity into account by providing a modular data flow-based system. In order to ensure that only proper connections can be established, the constituting modules communicate using a strongly typed communication mechanism.

Furthermore, domain specific application case studies are currently developed in physics, bio-informatics, and sys-tems engineering. Bearing these application domains in mind, three different science portals are being implemented simultaneously, based on the same technology.

Read the paper on the VLAM-G project.

Comments to David Groep