New middleware enables access to grid power from your desktop

A new software solution developed as part of the EU-funded SIMDAT (‘Data grids for process and product development using numerical simulation and knowledge discovery’) now gives aerospace
engineers access to more computing power.

Enabling them to use the power of a computing grid from a desktop computer will help when working on complex product development processes.

The major breakthrough is that the team of SIMDAT researchers from the aerospace and defence industry and the University of Southampton, UK, have successfully integrated a middleware called
GRIA into commercial off-the-shelf problem-solving environments (PSEs) – software designed to solve a particular class of problems. The middleware is a computer software that connects software
components, virtually ‘sitting in the middle’ between application software working on different operating systems.

‘The system is so effective that the engineer wouldn’t know whether the service is being provided by a grid site or their local IT,’ says Michael Turner of specialist at BAE Systems, a UK
defence and aerospace company. ‘Organisations will no longer have to change their tools and processes to take advantage of computing grids.’

In addition, the SIMDAT research has validated an approach that enables different workflow tools to interoperate. Thanks to this approach, engineers from different organisations can still share
data with colleagues without having to employ the same workflow methodology.

‘With these tools, we are creating faster processes that are capturing our knowledge and allowing greater collaboration between different groups dispersed all over the world,’ says Guillaume
Alleon from EADS, a European aerospace company.

Thanks to the GRIA middleware, the SIMDAT aerospace partners have thus been able to set up a virtual organisation that uses traditional project management structures while operating from sites
distributed across Europe.

‘Building our virtual organisation using GRIA allows us as prime contractor to manage the access our partners and suppliers have to our data and resources in a manageable but dynamic fashion,
enabling the effective management of multinational projects,’ adds Mr Turner.

The SIMDAT project consortium, made up of 27 partners from academia, research institutes and the industry, took up its work in summer 2004 with the aim of accelerating the integration of
existing grid technologies and architectures in a variety of industries. The ?18.5 million project, which received ?11 million from the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is scheduled to
complete its research in summer 2008.

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