The FutureGrid Project makes it possible for researchers to tackle complex research challenges in computer science related to the use and security of grids and clouds. These include topics ranging from authentication, authorization, scheduling, virtualization, middleware design, interface design, and cybersecurity, to the optimization of grid-enabled and cloud-enabled computational schemes for researchers in astronomy, chemistry, biology, engineering, atmospheric science and epidemiology. The project team provides a significant new experimental computing grid and cloud test-bed, named FutureGrid, to the research community, together with user support for third-party researchers conducting experiments on FutureGrid.

The test-bed makes it possible for researchers to conduct experiments by submitting an experiment plan that is then executed via a sophisticated workflow engine, preserving the provenance and state information necessary to allow reproducibility.

The test-bed also includes a geographically distributed set of heterogeneous computing systems, a data management system that holds both metadata and a growing library of software images, and a dedicated network allowing isolatable, secure experiments. The test-bed supports virtual machine-based environments, as well as native operating systems for experiments aimed at minimizing overhead and maximizing performance. The project partners integrate existing open-source software packages to create an easy-to-use software environment that supports the instantiation, execution, and recording of grid and cloud computing experiments.

One of the goals of the project is to understand the behavior and utility of cloud computing approaches. Researchers are able to measure the overhead of cloud technology by requesting linked experiments on both virtual and bare-metal systems. FutureGrid enables US scientists to develop and test new approaches to parallel, grid, and cloud computing, and compare and collaborate with international efforts in this area. The FutureGrid project provides an experimental platform that accommodates batch, grid, and cloud computing, allowing researchers to attack a range of research questions associated with optimizing, integrating and scheduling the different service models. The FutureGrid also provides a test-bed for middleware development and, because of its private network, allows middleware researchers to do controlled experiments under different network conditions and to test approaches to middleware that include direct interaction with the network control layer. Another component of the project is the development of benchmarks appropriate for grid computing, including workflow-based benchmarks derived from applications in astronomy, bioinformatics, seismology, and physics.

The FutureGrid forms part of NSF's high-performance cyberinfrastructure. It increases the capability of the XSEDE to support innovative computer science research requiring access to lower levels of the grid software stack, the networking software stack, and to virtualization and workflow orchestration tools.

Education and broader outreach activities include the dissemination of curricular materials on the use of FutureGrid, pre-packaged FutureGrid virtual machines configured for particular course modules, and educational modules based on virtual appliance networks and social networking technologies that focus on education in networking, parallel computing, virtualization and distributed computing. The project advances education and training in distributed computing at academic institutions with less diverse computational resources. It does this through the development of instructional resources that include preconfigured environments that provide students with sandboxed virtual clusters. These can be used for teaching courses in parallel, cloud, and grid computing. Such resources also provide academic institutions with a simple opportunity to experiment with cloud technology to see if such technology can enhance their campus resources. The FutureGrid project leverages the fruits of several software development projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Some useful resources are a poster in low and high resolution as well as a generic presentation as of October 11 2009 with an update on November 6 2009 and September 15 2010.

This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0910812 to Indiana University for "FutureGrid: An Experimental, High-Performance Grid Test-bed." Partners in the FutureGrid project include U. Chicago, U. Florida, San Diego Supercomputer Center - UC San Diego, U. Southern California, U. Texas at Austin, U. Tennessee at Knoxville, U. of Virginia, Purdue I., and T-U. Dresden.