Friday, December 1, 2006

Cyber-infrastructure and grids for Architecture Collaborative Design

Cyber-infrastructure and grids are often associated with academic high performance computing, but their real potential and significant impact will be in many other fields and disciplines unrelated to high performance computing. A quintessential example is the Eucalyptus project - which is a collaborative cyber-infrastructure project between Carleton University School of Architecture, Carleton University Systems Engineering Department, National Research Council (NRC), Communication Research Center (CRC), IBM and a small company called Pleora that makes little hand held encoders to transmit HDTV and SDI over lightpaths with IP multicast. This multi-disciplinary group has created a powerful set of architectural collaborative design tools using web services and web services work flow (BPEL). From a simple "dash board" on their respective computers, architectural collaborators across North America can link together rendering machines, spare computational resources, grids (Maya CUBE), collaborative HDTV video sessions, and network elements (using UCLP) to create complex multidomain network workflows and topologies called APNs (Articulated Private Networks).

APNs are next generations VPNs that allow users to integrate a seamless mesh of VPNS (layer 0- 3), service and applications. They can then manipulate their interconnection and topology to create "network workflows" linking together various facilities and applications across multi-domain networks.

Last week the Eucalyptus team gave a demo at Sc06. What was very impressive about their cyber-infrastructure architecture was the ability to simply and quickly link in new web services and workflows over thousands of kilometers. For example at the demo the team demonstrated how they could link in a fire emergency model from the Systems Engineering department which allowed the collaborative architectural team to validate fire safety and emergency response scenarios within their design. They also demonstrated how they could quickly manipulate designs, acquire computational resources for rendering and share the results through high quality HDTV video conferencing and shared workspaces.

The NRC-IIT team did an amazing job in developing the various web services tools and workflows. The CRC team integrated these with UCLP to provide the collaborators with control over the network resources to create their APNs. Overall a very impressive collaboration. And the architect students at Carleton were amazing at how easily they could manipulate and adapt to these tools.

For more information please check out the Eucalyptus web site:

For the hand held HTDV video encoders see:

For more information on APNs and "network workflows" see:

For more information on using web services and workflow to integrate fire & emergency response models please see