Summary of GDB meeting, January 16, 2013


Welcome - M. Jouvin

Meeting organisation

  • Looking for more volunteers for note-taking, preferably one per major country. MJ will do the final editing
  • Video problems reported to CERN team, not fixed yet
    • News since GDB: hopefully fixed with next version of H323 gateway expected these days

Next GDBs

  • March GDB will be external in KIT
    • Registration mandatory
    • Look at Indico for details
  • April GDB moved to week before b/c of clash with EGI forum
    • May be canceled later as it is very close to March GDB (3 weeks only, including Easter)
  • preGDB in Feb on "AAI on storage systems", pls fill in doodle

Actions in progress: see slides

  • multi-core job support : Ian Fisk (IF) CMS plans for scheduling multi-core jobs by end of LS1, hoping to have a multi-threaded framework by Aug/Sept.
  • MW client in CVMFS: ready for testing

Clarification of preGDB, GDB and Operations Coordination

  • GDB to be discussing on work in progress
  • preGDB should be focusing on a specific topic.
  • WLCG operations coord is following up actions, in particular those that come out of general discussions in GDB.
  • Ian Bird (IB) - we do not have in depth discussions in GDB, in depth shall be in preGDB
  • Philippe Charpentier (PC), agendas shall be consistent and no overlap with other meetings, good coordination of topics in agendas of meetings needed, no duplication.

Experiment Support after EGI-Inspire SA3

End of EGI-Inspire SA3 has a big impact on CERN, in particular Experiment Support and Grid Technology groups.

  • Respectively 33% and 45% reductions in CERN ES and GT groups

Next framework program at EU: Horizon 2020 with 3 priorities

  • Excellent science
  • Industrial leadership
  • Societal challenges

Final funding of Horizon 2020 is stil under negociation and unclear

  • Adoption of legislative acts by Parliament and Council: mid-2013
  • Start Jan. 2014: there will be a 1 year gap

CERN has ongoing commitments to and NGIs, as we expect EGI to support WLCG

  • Inline with what we need


  • Complex management/coordination structure no longer needed
  • IT needs to maintain its effort in DM

Effort available left should be refocused on activities benefiting to more than one experiment

  • ~24 people left compared to ~40 today
  • Probably less people labeled for one experiment: an issue for LHCb and ALICE in particular
  • WLCG Operatons Coordination effort
  • Dashboard: more and more commonalities between experiments
  • Common activities: either coordination by IT or IT-driven
    • Seen as strategic by experiments for the future
  • Details of IT reorganization after April has not yet been agreed

What can no longer be supported

  • Ganga: hand over to Ganga collaboration
  • POOL: now ATLAS specific
  • No interest anymore for Gridview, SE-catalog sync: will be stopped

Potential for future projects: only in 2014, must be broader than just HEP

  • Must involve industrial partners: HELIX/Nebula example
  • Must not be perceived as grid development
  • Can no longer be IT alone: must have commitments across the board
    • In particular PH/SFT must be involved
  • Should target large project (EGEE-like scale) as smaller project have a too large overhead

I. Fisk: is the activities proposed to be maintained sustainable with the effort left?

  • I. Bird: I think that yes but must foster common solutions

Future Computing Strategy - I. Bird

Summary of input to European Strategy for PP

  • Contributed by IT and PH

HEP computing needs after 2020 (post LS2) are much larger than today: existing model cannot scale

  • We are only at the beginning of the life of experiments
  • Vital that funding for T1s and T2 is maintained

Data management is a strong selling point for HEP: must work with other communities to either buid community tools for more communities or move to more standard solutions

  • Must include collaboration with industry

Data preservation: some other communities more advanced, must collaborate with them

  • HEP has another scale...


  • Grid computing has been very successful for us but not for other sciences
  • Should generalise this as a more general HEP-wide infrastructure: do not duplicate WLCG for each big facility/experiments (eg. ILC)
  • Must understand how new technlogies will help/fit: terabit networks, clouds (commercial vs. private)...

Must also invest into SW to make an effective use of new HW architectures

  • Several big issues and some initiatves started, eg. concurrency forum
  • Becomes well-known we have an efficiency problem with new architectures

HEP needs a forum where these strategic issues can be discussed

  • CERN is planning a workshop on these to kickstart these activities

Recently, LHCC asked for an update of computing models for the the period after 2015

  • Explain use of new technologies: improved date management strategies, better use of current and future CPU architecture....
  • Timescale: draft report at C-RRB in Oct. 2013
    • Need to have a good draft for discussion by Sept.
    • Will start soon by a discussion with experiment computing coordinators and then probably working groups
  • Must coordinate with architects forum: discussions in progress


  • P. Charpentier (PC): agree with review of computing model but budget seems to be seen as fixed budget for replacing hardware. While LHC is running data increases.
    • I. Bird (IB): I think funding agencies are aware of the large increasing data set.
    • PC heard saying that not only budget but resources will be flat. IB yes one country said that not all countries.
    • I. Fisk (IF): if we continue with current thresholds in 2015 its a very different problem.
    • IB: by 2014 we need to say that we need increasing resources, need to careful how to increase.
  • M. Jouvin (MJ) : look also into astro-physics which will take large datasets. They are very far from our distributed computing approach.
    • IB: astro-physics is too close, need to look into biologists, e-health. If we cannot convince astro-physics, how can we convince biologists, etc. In the future this needs to be driven by scientists not infrastructure providers.
    • MJ: experience in France is the opposite. Biologists are easier to convince and more ready to work with us.
  • PC what is the commonality with these other sciences.
    • IB they have large data.
    • Jeff Templon (JT) we have to find corners where we can have large impact.
    • IB we shall start now contacting those communities before they have solved the problem for them.

EGI Report - P. Solagna

MW upgrade

  • Huge progress in upgrade of unsupported MW (except DPM/LFC/WN) : ~15 sites remaining
  • DPM: 32 to be upgraded
  • LFC: 2 remaining
  • WN: 92 CEs affected but many shared clusters
  • EMI-1 probe not yet deployed but ready
  • Tarball worker node was made available few days ago: sites providing reasonable schedule will be given a (short) extension if they need it.

Central user banning plans: change proposed an extension to the current "Service operation security policy" but not yet endorsed by OMB as implications for sites were not clear enough

  • ARGUS is currently the only available solution: are they possible alternatives for smaller non WLCG sites
    • WLCG sites required to deploy glexec with generally implies ARGUS
    • NGI-level instance that could be used directly by smaller sites?
    • Publish list of suspended users are plain text?

Configuration management tools survey

  • Support of YAIM core after EMI under discussion: may b dropped
  • Several sites are already using various configuration management tools: site-info.def may disappear
  • A survey will be sent soon
    • Expected outcome: collect and sharing of best practices by NGIs/sites


  • Helge Meinhard (HM) on configuration management: not a single solution for all sites, but Puppet attracting more and more sites, shall we have a common framework? e.g. with DESY, proposal will be communicated on sharing Puppet configs. Also planning a WG in HEPiX dedicating to sharing Puppet knowlegde and config.
    • Tiziana Ferrari (TF): Puppet only machine configuration model but also middleware?
    • HM: not defined yet, but probably yes as most sites are also WLCG sites

T0 Update - W. Salter

CC Upgrade Project: solve cooling issue for critical UPS rooms, increase capacity, decouple A/C for CC from adjacent office building

  • Includes mvoing AHUs to UPS: 10 to 15mn, cover most of the power cuts experienced
  • Will provide a physical separation of critical systems from non criticals: will imply moving some systems

Wigner Data Center: T0 extension in Budapest

  • Should be transparent to experiments/users despite the increased network latency
    • Tests already done by introducing a delay between lxbatch and storage with no impact noticed
  • All operations will be done remotely from CERN, except those requiring physical intervention
  • Made of 3 rooms that will be used one after the other for a total of 2.7 MW
    • A 4th one available but will not be used
    • 1st room already available, other ones should be completed by June 2013
  • 2 100 Gb links ordered: 1 commercial (T-System) and 1 DANTE (very different physical path)
    • Expected by end of Feb.
  • Many dicussions on rack and network layout: 5 racks per row
    • Intelligent PDUs in each rack to allow remote control
  • Network routers and siwtches are being delivered to Wigner
  • CPU and disk servers currently ordered, delivery to Wigner in March
  • Draft SLA
  • Major opening ceremony in May/June

Business continuity plans

  • First classification of services in 3 categories: backup, load balancing, reinstallatioin
  • Internal study to see what would required to implement BC at the network level: currently only one network hub
    • Not before LS1 is finished due to the amount of work (eg. new fibres) needed (probably 2015)
  • Plan to start with second delivery in 2013 but full BC not before 2015

Summary of Operations Coordination pre-GDB - M. Girone

Meeting longer that usual fortnightly meetings (typically 1.5h)

  • Focused on areas in active deployment and integration
    • Many experiment improvements planned for LS1
  • Willingness of sites and experiments to do more things in common
    • Ops Coordination has a strong experience in helping with this
    • Need to foster links between OSG and EGI

Clear progress on tasks with people who accepted to take ownership of the activities

  • Eg. CVMFS but other TF using the same approach
  • Coordination needs to be reinforced by sites and experiments


  • SHA-2: main milestone is to have all the SW SHA-2 ready by early summer
    • Recent good news from dCache which found a solution to provide SHA-2 support without RFC proxies: no need anymore to upgrade both to SHA2 and RFC proxies.
      • May have to move to RFC proxy in the future anyway but no pressure to do it. Will be done after the SHA-2 migration which is basically the same thing as the EMI-3 migration for services not yet SHA-2 compliant in EMI-2
    • One last issue with CAs having email addresses in their certificate names.
  • glexec : have a fully validated system at scale bu the end of LS1
    • First get it deployed everywhere by end of 2013

Information System: proposal for a central Discovery Service for WLCG

  • Idea: aggregate information from different places into one place
  • WG needs to come back with more details about implementation and timeline for a decision to be taken

Data management

  • Experiments agreed that FTS3 deployment must be finished: interested by new features
  • Catalog improvements planned by several experiments
  • Remote data access/federation in progress for all experiments
    • Currently based on xrootd, some tests with httpd
  • Consensus on moving forward with disk and tape separation
  • CMS proposal to enable the use of OPN for remote data access from WNs at T1s: first feedback rather positive, discussions in progress

Clouds and HLT farms: see cloud discussion introduction

  • HLT resources in the order of 10-15% of ATLAS/CMS grid resources
    • ALICE HLT farm could be 250k core in 2018
  • Lot of commonalities in the strategies for using the agile infrastructure and the HLT infrastructure

Future Work on Virtualization and Clouds

Intro - Michel Jouvin

Today is a follow up for the discussion we didn't have the time to have in December after Tony's proposal for a future work in WLCG.

pre-GDB yesderday has the whole afternoon dedicated to work of experiments about clouds

  • Issues with accounting: APEL should be able to cope with cloud accounting for private clouds operated by our community
    • Not possible for public clouds where we don't have access to the cloud accounting service but do we really want/need this into WLCG accounting?
  • ATLAS and CMS tests of CERN Agile infrastructure: a common work driven by CERN IT/ES, essentially successful
    • Test jobs and real production jobs, ~200 VMs of 4 cores/8 GB for each experiment, Condor used to instantiate VMs
    • A CPU efficiency problem identified recently by ATLAS but not yet analyzed: almost convinced this is due to some misusage of the resource as it doesn't match any number observed so far
  • Plans to use HLT farms as standard computing resources during LS1 by all experiments
    • All experiments except LHCb plan to run a cloud to achieve this

Ian Bird's questions that he would like to see discussed:

  • Can we use cloud sites instead of grid sites, what would be the advantage?
  • Shall we use opportunistic clouds, scientific clouds?
  • Who does the integration with the different technologies?
  • Who will pay for it?

T0 View - M. Guijarro

Clouds are a fact and experiments began to deal with it

  • HELIX/Nebula
  • Site clouds at several places: BNL, CNAF, IN2P3, UVIC; HLT farms, CERN IT OpenStack

Must review the assumptions the previous work done (HEPiX) was based on

  • Keep as much as possible inline with industry direction

Main topics to address

  • Accounting: wall clock vs. CPU, mutiple tenants, integration with APEL
  • Scheduling: how to deal with limited resources? How to claim back resources? Fairshare?
  • Federated identity management
  • Do we need to restrict the variety of clouds we support

Definitely in favour of a WG

LHCB View - P. Charpentier

Use pilot jobs in charge of pulling workload from a central queue

  • A pilot job is in charge of running "job agents" that will start actual payload
    • A pilot job can start several job agents
    • A job can be multithreaded

Role of batch system in this model is very limited

  • Place a pilot job on WN
  • Ensure fair shares: not clear where they are coming from and how they are enforced
    • Some sites enforces it as a max limit, other as an average value
    • Fairshare should ideally give free resources when there is no competition without impact on the future...
  • Job/resource monitoring and limiting: not necessarily a good thing...

VMs are interesting if they are allow to run for a long time with several cores

  • Not making sense to run a VM per core
  • Under the responsibility of the VO to make an efficient use of the resource: mix of application profiles, run // jobs, optimise memory footprints
  • Accounting on wall-clock time as with commercial clouds
    • CPU time must also be accounted but not used as the main metrics for fairshare
    • Risk is paying for low efficiency if site is badly configured
Ideal scenario
  • Start VM if there are resources available, contextualized for the VO and starting a pilot for the VO
  • Start pulling jobs from CTQ based on WN configuration and jobs in queue: requires ability to get information on the WN
  • Communication with sites
    • Max time for a VM to ensure fairness when running over pledges
    • VO should commit not to match new jobs if requested to stop with a reasonable grace period (~1 day): could be used to claim resources when there is competition between VOs
    • VM is shutdown if there is no more jobs to match

DIRAC has the ability to instantiate VMs.


  • In 2011, tried building Condor pool in cloud: ostly following this solution.
    • VMs connecting to Condor pool.
    • Machines running indefinitely. Could use cloud scheduler.
  • Also tried batchless configuration.
    • Pilot running in infinite loop.
    • Killing machine if needed. Part of lxcloud project.
    • No need for pilot factory, or Condor pool.

CMS - D. Collins

CMS is happy with the current resource allocatin system: any change acceptable if it is not broken or made inefficient

CMS active adapting job submission to clouds

  • Mostly for peak offload
  • Testing done on StratusLab, adapting to OpenStack
  • EC2 as the only interface supported

ALICE - P. Buncic

No official strategy for use of clouds in ALICE: more a personal view

  • Some initial work started as part of the attempt to use HLT farm for offline computing
    • Based on CernVM family of products

ALICE computing model relatively flat and thus cloud friendly

  • Uniform data access though xrootd
  • No real distinction between T1 and T2
  • Single task queue
  • In the future would welcome pure cloud sites if they offer an API compatible with public clouds (EC2)
    • No need for a batch system: job agent (cloud agent) can interact directly with task queue

Vision: clusters on demand instantiated on various clouds

ALICE expects to live in a mix grid/cloud world for a while.


There was a long and rich discussion on many different aspects, below is a summary of the main points.

Two parallel infrastructures or a transition from grid to cloud for accessing computing resources: what's the vision?

  • LHCb: currently a batch system is underused, would prefer to have a simpler interface. VMs are more flexible.
    • Just need an interface to start/stop VMs: preferrably a common one for all clouds. Currently using OpenStack interface at CERN but DIRAC also has (or is developping) backends for other cloud MW
    • I. Fisk (IF): we shall agree on one standard which should be EC2
  • CMS: pretty good situation to submit to EC2 interface, but profiting from work on Stratuslab, Helix Nebula, open science grid
    • IF: we shall not put grid infrastructure on top of clouds
  • Predrag Buncic (PB): we shall use the cloud infrastructure as an opportunity to consolidate our current model, removing software layers
  • ATLAS: we need some time to test and integrate the system
  • Helge Meinhard (HM): will simplify world if LHC VOs would go to virtualised infrastructure.
  • Too early to say if a cloud can be an alternative to a grid CE for accessing computing resources but all the experiments doing some work in this direction
    • The recent work is more than using opportunistic resources
    • This is something quite different from using public/commercial clouds for bursting out load

Fair shares in clouds

  • J. Templon (JT): no need for fair share when you are on a resource you own entirely (a private cloud like HLT farm or a commercial cloud where you buy the capacity you use). But in a shared cloud without a fair share mechanism, VO would loss a significant percentage of their resources. Need to keep a batch scheduler in this context.
    • I. Bird (IB): there is a scheduler for provisionning VMs in a cloud MW. Currently it is at a simpler level than a batch system but a lot of work in progress to get more sophisticated schedulers for VM provisionning.
  • HM: we shall not have fixed partitioning of infrastructure to VOs.
    • PC: no, we need to re-establish the "fair share" but not too often, e.g. every week.

VM lifetime

  • P. Charpentier (PC): VMs should not live forever but for long, longer than current queues, why need to restart a VM/pilot if work needs to be done. But for this to be acceptable for sites, a mechanism must exist that allow a site to claim back allocated resources whatever the reasons (site maintenance, "fair share" implementation between VOs...)
  • IF: what shall be the rebalancing time?
  • Several sites pointing out the risk of inefficiency of too long life time
  • M. Jouvin (MJ) shortened the discussion on this topic: not the main objective for today, many other important issues to address first, avoid to restart the long standing debate about fair share in batch systems
    • Try to define some concrete experimental work to assess if the proposed approach (like Philippe's one) may work

Whole node scheduling

  • PC: this is an opportunity to go to whole node scheduling
    • For making it acceptable for sites and making the VO responsible for the efficiency, should move to wall clock accounting rather than CPU accounting for pledges
    • IB: can be done by applying a conversion factor rather than changing the rule in the short term
  • IF: pilot we could use it as transitioning to cloud infrastructure, pilot framework will decide what to do with a number of cores available in a VM.

What about cloud storage strategy?

  • IB commercially available on Amazon, others not, use it as cache but probably not further at the moment.


  • What will be the effect of moving responsibility for nodes from sites to VOs that are responsible for what happens inside their VMs?


  • IB: we converged on a plan on what to do, even though we are still quite far away from a precise work plan
    • Proposing future project using Cloud technology will attract EU money where grid middleware won't
  • Gonzalo Marino (GM): we are at the stage to make technical proposals e.g. for sites supporting multiple VOs e.g. for accounting, sharing resources.
  • MJ: will try to summarize the rich discussion and organize a follow-up discussion with people interested in trying to establish a concrete work plan to progress on these issues
    • Need both experiments (now all working on this topic) and sites (volunteers welcome in addition to T0)

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