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The GRIDS Center Software Suite:
Providing Tools and Services for Integration of Distributed Resources

The Grid Research, Integration, Deployment and Support Center (GRIDS) was formed in late 2001 as part of the National Science Foundation Middleware Initiative (NMI), with the goal of creating a stable middleware infrastructure to permit seamless resource sharing across virtual organizations. NMI and GRIDS grew out of workshops and white papers that identified the need for production-quality software based on open-source and open-standard approaches.

The GRIDS Center Software Suite includes components chosen for their combined benefits, working together for maximum utility in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Through NMI, the GRIDS releases occur regularly in April and October of each year. Stable NSF funding of NMI means users can rely upon this software for timeliness, quality and a high degree of interoperability to make the most of on-line resources at your institution and beyond.  GRIDS is the preferred distribution for major e-science projects such as GriPhyN, NEESgrid, TeraGrid, and others.  The current version can be downloaded as part of NMI Release 5.1.

Since the inception of GRIDS, an emerging "cyberinfrastructure" has begun to take shape.  A blue ribbon panel commissioned by NSF issued a report in 2003 that called for substantial investment in a new generation of collaborative tools for science and engineering research.  The committee's chair, Dan Atkins of the University of Michigan, has said that "Grid middleware is a very critical component. NMI and GRIDS address important needs not just by providing stable tools, but also by defining processes for the collaborative development of software for science and engineering." The panel's 14 months of inquiry showed that prior ad hoc efforts to develop infrastructure had been in danger of becoming "balkanized," according to Atkins, with many differing research communities developing independent -- and often incompatible -- solutions to similar problems of interoperability and resource sharing.

Corporate IT vendors have at the same time begun to champion the Grid.  IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Platform Computing, Avaki and others are committed to developing products and services based on the open standards embodied by GRIDS components.  Just as the World Wide Web was initially the sole province of researchers, Grid technologies are on the verge of moving beyond science and engineering to have widespread influence on businesses and mainstream computing users.  For examples of real-world Grid applications and links to project web sites, see

GRIDS Center Software Suite

As part of NMI, GRIDS develops and seeks standard components and mechanisms for:

  • Authentication, authorization, policy
  • Resource discovery and directory
  • Remote access to computers, data, instruments

GRIDS also promotes integration of these components with end-user tools (conferencing, data analysis, data sharing, distributed computing, etc.), with campus infrastructures, and with commercial technologies. The center's goals are to help define, develop, deploy, and support integrated software supporting 21st Century science and engineering applications. The result will be a national infrastructure that can be used by application communities to explore full-scale, meaningful Grid applications.

At the core of GRIDS is packaged, open-source software aimed at the national research, education, and scientific communities:

Globus Toolkit . The de facto standard for Grid computing, this open-source software is a modular "bag of technologies" that simplifies collaboration across dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organizations. It includes tools for authentication, scheduling, file transfer and resource description.

Condor.  Whereas high performance computing (HPC) is often measured in operations per second, Condor emphasizes high throughput computing (HTC) to deliver processing capacity over longer periods of time -- days, weeks, months and beyond. The GRIDS suite includes Condor-G, an enhanced version of the core Condor software that is optimized to work with Globus Toolkit for managing Grid jobs.

Network Weather Service (NWS). This distributed system periodically monitors and dynamically forecasts the performance that various network and computational resources can deliver over a given time interval, using a distributed set of performance sensors for instantaneous readings.

GSI-OpenSSH. This modified version of OpenSSH adds support for Grid Security Infrastructure (GSI) authentication. GSI-OpenSSH provides a single sign-on remote login capability for the Grid.

Grid Packaging Tools (GPT).  This collection of packaging tools is built around an XML-based packaging data format that provides a straight forward way to define complex dependency and compatibility relationships between software packages. GPT was used to create all of the Grids Center Software Suite bundles and is a pre-requisite for installing them.

MyProxy.  This credential repository lets Grid users retrieve a proxy credential on demand, without worrying about managing private key and certificate files. MyProxy can improve security and flexibility, so job submissions will not fail due to expired credentials.

MPICH-G2.  This Grid-enabled implementation of the Message Passing Index (MPI) standard is based on the popular MPICH library.  It works with the Globus Toolkit to link multiple machines running MPI applications, possibly with different architectures.

GridConfig.  These tools manage the configuration of GRIDS software components. GridConfig provides an easy way to generate and regenerate configuration files in native formats, and to ensure configuration consistency.

GridSolve.  This program uses the remote procedure call (RPC) protocol to create a client/agent/server system for remote access to Grid-enabled hardware and software.

PyGlobus.  This tool  permits users to access the Globus Toolkit from Python, a high-level scripting language.

UberFTP.  This is an interactive client for GridFTP, which is part of the Globus Toolkit

GridPort.  This enables development of portals and applications on top of underlying distributed and grid computing infrastructure to facilitate computational science. GridPort provides a comprehensive set of capabilities for using distributed computing resources via a consistent API that presents streamlined access to backend grid services from diverse grid computing technologies.  (New in NMI-R5)

DataCutter.  This framework is designed to provide support for processing of large scientific datasets in heterogeneous environments. It supports a filter-stream programming model for executing application-specific data processing, enabling combined use of task- and data-parallelism.  (New in NMI-R5)

STORM DataCutter.  This services-based middleware is designed to support data select and transfer operations on large and distributed scientific datasets. The objective of STORM is to enable execution of select queries on datasets stored in files distributed across a network.  (New in NMI-R5)

AppLeS Parameter Sweep Template.  APST is a tool that schedules and deploys parameter sweep applications on the Computational Grid. Its purpose is to schedule and deploy parameter sweep applications on the Computational Grid. Common examples include all kinds of Monte-Carlo simulations and parameter-space searches.  (New in NMI-R5)

INCA.  Ths generic framework automates testing, verification, and monitoring of functionality common to a set of Grid systems.  (New in NMI-R5)

SRB Client.  The SDSC Storage Resource Broker (SRB) is client-server middleware that provides a uniform interface for connecting to heterogeneous data resources over a network and accessing replicated data sets. SRB, in conjunction with the Metadata Catalog (MCAT), provides a way to access data sets and resources based on their attributes and/or logical names rather than their names or physical locations.  (New in NMI-R5)

Also packaged with the GRIDS software is a tool from another NMI project team, called "EDIT" (Enterprise and Desktop Integration Technologies):

KX.509 and KCA. This provides a bridge between Kerberos and PKI infrastructure. It is included to enable the PKI-based security infrastructure of the Globus Toolkit to integrate with Kerberos-based authentication implemented at university campuses.

These GRIDS Center Software Suite components were chosen by the NMI leadership for their collective value in creating and managing computational Grids that facilitate use of powerful on-line resources. For technical assistance, use the GRIDS Center federated Bugzilla. For more information, use


Primary funding for GRIDS is from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Middleware Initiative program 03-513. GRIDS software developers wish also to acknowledge support from:

  • NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (for Globus Toolkit, Condor-G, NWS, MyProxy, GSI-OpenSSH, GPT and GridConfig)

  • U.S. Department of Energy (for Globus Toolkit, Condor-G, NWS and MPICH-G2)

  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (for Globus Toolkit and Condor-G)

  • NASA (for Globus Toolkit, MyProxy and GSI-OpenSSH)

  • U..K. e-Science Program (for Globus Toolkit)

  • Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (for Globus Toolkit)

  • IBM (for Globus Toolkit)

  • Microsoft Corporation (for Globus Toolkit and Condor-G)


2004 GRIDS Center. All Rights Reserved.
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This is an archived site and is no longer maintained. There will be no further updates to this site.