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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Grid Portals and Web 2.0 for cyber-infrastructure and platforms

[For most scientific users, portals will be the most common way to interface with grids and cyber-infrastructure platforms. A good example of a platform cyber-infrastructure portal is the Eucalyptus project where architectural collaborators can interact and link together various web services and workflows such as rendering grids, network web services for HDTV, etc. The following IBM site provides a good tutorial on how to build a portal with Web 2.0 tools, WSRF, etc-- BSA]

Eucalyptus portal

IBM portal development

Built on top of grid middleware, grid portals act as gateways to the grid because they smooth the learning curve of using grid. In the first of this three-part "Development of standards-based grid portals" series, we give an overview of grid portals, focusing on today's standards-based (JSR 168 and Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) V1.0) second-generation grid portals. In Part 2, we develop three portlets to illustrate how a grid portal can be built using JSR 168-compliant portlets. And here in Part 3, we discuss the application of WSRP and the future of grid portals.

Today, grid portals play an important role as resource and application gateways in the grid community. Most of all, grid portals provide researchers with a familiar UI via Web browsers, which hide the complexity of computational and data grid systems. In this three-part series, we gave a general review of portals and discussed first- and second-generation grid portals. We built three grid portlets that demonstrate how a basic grid portal can be constructed using JSR 168-compliant portlets. We illustrated how these grid portlets are reused through WSRP and considered the future of grid portal development.

JSR 168 and WSRP V1.0 are two specifications that aim to solve interoperability issues between portlets and portlet containers. In particular, today's grid portals are service-oriented. On one hand, portals are acting as service clients to consume traditional data-centric Web services. On the other hand, portals are providing presentation-centric services so federated portals can be easily built.

With basic grid related functions like proxy manager and job submission successfully implemented, advanced grid portals today are aimed at the integration of complex applications, including visualisation and workflow systems. Web 2.0 techniques were presented, and Ajax was recommended for portal development to make grid portals more interactive and attractive to users. In the future, grid portals should also aim to include existing Web applications and, as security techniques become more developed, credential delegation will play an important role in federation and sharing of grid services