Web Grid

The OODT grid services (product and profile services) use CORBA or RMI as their underlying network transport. However, limitations of CORBA and RMI make them inappropriate for large-scale deployments. For one, both are procedural mechanisms, providing a remote interface that resembles a method call. This makes streaming of data from a service impossible, because there are limitations to the sizes of data structures that can be passed over a remote method call. Instead, repeated calls must be made to retrieve each block of a product, making transfer speeds horribly slow compared to HTTP or FTP. (Block-based retrieval of profiles was never implemented, resulting in out of memory conditions for large profile results, which is another problem.)

Second, both CORBA and RMI rely on a central name registry. The registry makes an object independent of its network location, enabling a client to call it by name (looking up its last known location in the registry). However, this requires that server objects be able to make outbound network calls to the registry (through any outbound firewall), and that the registry accept those registrations (through any inbound firewall). This required administrative action at institutions hosting server objects and at the institution hosting the registry. Often, these firewall exceptions would change without notice as system adminstrators changed at each location (apparently firewall exceptions are poorly documented everywhere).

Further, in the two major deployments of OODT (PDS and EDRN), server objects have almost never moved, nullifying any benefit of the registry. This project, OODT Web Grid, avoids the prolems of CORBA and RMI by using HTTP as the transport mechanism for products and profiles. Further, it provides a password-protected mechanism to add new sets of product and profile query handlers, enabling seamless activation of additional capabilities.


Further documentation on Web Grid is forthcoming. In the mean time, check out these presentation slides. (Don't worry, they're not in PowerPoint format.)