SMSCG (phase 1)

Long Title: Swiss Multi-Science Computing Grid (phase 1)
Universität Zürich
Universität Bern
Universita della Svizzera Italiana
Swiss National Supercomputing Centre
Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft (WSL)
Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse occidentale
SWITCH - Teleinformatikdienste für Lehre und Forschung
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (unfunded partner)
Domain: Grid
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.05.2008
End Date: 31.03.2010
Project Leader: P. Flury
Notes: SMSCG is also a Swiss National Grid Association (SwiNG) Working Group

SMSCG provides all the essential ingredients for an operational grid and the necessary user support system. Thousands of CPUs can be accessed by students or researchers and deliver results faster. The extensible application portfolio is not limited to few research fields and contains applications from several disciplines.

(see also phase 2)


People from more than 10 institutions have successfully cooperated to build and operate a national computational Grid infrastructure, which is fully supported by Swiss National Grid Initiative (SwiNG) and which consists out of more than 2500 CPUs.
The user-driven application portfolio encompasses 8 applications in the fields of

  • physics (ATLAS),
  • life sciences (NAMD, GROMACS, GAMESS, rosetta, SwissPIT),
  • earth sciences (Alpine3D on POP- C++), and
  • computer sciences (RSA768).
  • Upon user request more complex applications can be added.

The portfolio is further enriched by the workflow engine JOpera and by the parallel programming framework POP-C++.
The SMSCG Grid is the first Grid in Europe, which has leveraged user management against a national AAI infrastructure.
As a result students and researchers with a SWITCHaai account can join any of the five Virtual Organizations (life, earth, crypto, tutor, smscg) the project is operating within two clicks on a registration webpage. VO subscription and enabling of their Short Lived Certificate is done transparently in the background.
The project has established a solid framework of policies, guidelines, and procedures, which shall enforce security, and ensure a smooth and efficient operation of the actively and passively monitored infrastructure.
Special attention has been put to the support of users, e.g. by a ticketing that further notifies the project mailing list. The reaction times are thus very short.

SMSCG has with it's expertise established as the de-facto Grid infrastructure other AAA/SWITCH Grid projects attach to.

The following Core Grid services are available through the project website:

  • Old style NorduGrid monitor and GIIS server
  • New style SMSCG Grid monitor
  • VOMS server (Virtual Organization Membership Service), hosts also non-SMSCG VOs
  • VASH server (VOMS Attributes from Shibboleth)
  • Package repository for SMSCG software
  • Projects ticketing system, used for user support
  • User VO subscription service
  • Fraction of CPUs, which is made available to the SMSCG Grid users
  • Nagios plugins that monitor several components of the ARC middleware stack.

The second phase of SMSCG will focus on infrastructure and on user recruitment.


Our primary goal is to provide computational resources to solve scientific computational problems. This involves the installation, commissioning and operation of a computational grid across several institutions of the Swiss higher education sector with active involvement of applications from different scientific domains.

This grid shall have the following key properties:

  • Multi-disciplinary and user-driven: The grid shall be used by a selected set of early user communities from different scientific domains organized in virtual organizations. Several user groups are active members of the project, additional user groups may join later.
  • Support for users and applications: Special focus will be given to make this grid easy to use. The grid specialists will assist the user groups in porting and running their applications on the grid. The mechanisms for long-term user and application support will be defined and initial steps taken towards their establishment.
  • Foster cooperation between IT infrastructure providers and computational scientists from different academic institutions. Members from cantonal universities, universities of applied sciences as well as from the ETH domain participate in this project.
  • The supported grid middleware shall be
    • Simple: The middleware is chosen such that it can be easily installed, maintained and operated. This will enable adding new resources at a later stage. Only well-established middleware solutions with which project members already have experience shall be used, with slight adaptations wherever necessary. No new middleware components shall be developed as part of this project.
    • Extensible: Although the initial focus is on a computational grid only, the middleware shall be chosen such that it does not exclude further extensions at a later stage, mainly in the area of data management. A dedicated work package investigates possible extensions and interoperability with a second chosen middleware.
    • Flexible: Avoid lock-in to one given grid middleware. The grid middleware stack ARC from the NorduGrid Project has been chosen as starting point. However, the project will investigate interoperation with a second middleware stack (or components thereof), which will be selected early in the project.
  • Integrated user management: User registration, authentication and authorization shall be leveraged against SWITCHaai, the Swiss national authentication and authorization infrastructure (AAI). This implies the use of SWITCH short-lived certificates (SLCS) as well as authorization decisions based on SWITCHaai attributes. This will be the first grid installation in Europe where user management, authentication and authorization across several institutions is based on a national AAI infrastructure.
  • Special focus on security: The project team will seek active cooperation with the CERT teams of the Swiss higher education sector.
  • Policy-based: By end of the project, the grid shall reach an operational stage, which is governed by policies between resource providers and user communities.
  • Sustainability: The project team plans to extend this project upon success by another two years, including additional applications. Beyond 2011, the aim is to operate this grid through funding obtained within the context of the Swiss National Grid Association (SwiNG).