Section: Scientific Foundations
Large Scale Distributed Systems (LSDS)
What makes a fundamental difference between recent Global Computing systems (Seti@home), Grid (EGEE, TeraGrid) and former works on distributed systems is the large scale of these systems. This characteristic becomes also true for large scale parallel computers gathering tens of thousands of CPU cores. The notion of Large Scale is linked to a set of features that has to be taken into account in these systems. An example is the system dynamicity caused by node volatility: in Internet Computing Platforms (also called Desktop Grids), a non predictable number of nodes may leave the system at any time. Some recent results also report a very low MTTI (Mean Time To Interrupt) in top level supercomputers gathering 100,000+ CPU cores. Another example of characteristics is the complete lack of control of nodes connectivity. In Desktop Grid, we cannot assume that external administrator is able to intervene in the network setting of the nodes, especially their connection to Internet via NAT and Firewalls. This means that we have to deal with the in place infrastructure in terms of performance, heterogeneity, dynamicity and connectivity. These characteristics, associated with the requirement of scalability, establish a new research context in distributed systems. The Grand-Large project aims at investigating theoretically as well as experimentally the fundamental mechanisms of LSDS, especially for the high performance computing applications.
Computing on Large Scale Global Computing systems
Large scale parallel and distributed systems are mainly used in the context of Internet Computing. As a consequence, until Sept. 2007, Grand-Large has focused mainly on Desktop Grids. Desktop Grids are developed for computing (SETI@home, Folding@home, Decrypthon, etc.), file exchanges (Napster, Kazaa, eDonkey, Gnutella, etc.), networking experiments (PlanetLab, Porivo) and communications such as instant messaging and phone over IP (Jabber, Skype). In the High Performance Computing domain, LSDS have emerged while the community was considering clustering and hierarchical designs as good performance-cost tradeoffs. Nowadays, Internet Computing systems are still very popular (the BOINC platform is used to run over 40 Internet Computing projects and XtremWeb is used in production in three countries) and still raise important research issues.
Desktop Grid systems essentially extend the notion of computing beyond the frontier of administration domains. The very first paper discussing this type of systems  presented the Worm programs and several key ideas that are currently investigated in autonomous computing (self replication, migration, distributed coordination, etc.). LSDS inherit the principle of aggregating inexpensive, often already in place, resources, from past research in cycle stealing/resource sharing. Due to its high attractiveness, cycle stealing has been studied in many research projects like Condor  , Glunix  and Mosix  , to cite a few. A first approach to cross administration domains was proposed by Web Computing projects such as Jet  , Charlotte  , Javeline  , Bayanihan  , SuperWeb  , ParaWeb  and PopCorn  . These projects have emerged with Java, taking benefit of the virtual machine properties: high portability across heterogeneous hardware and OS, large diffusion of virtual machine in Web browsers and a strong security model associated with bytecode execution. Performance and functionality limitations are some of the fundamental motivations of the second generation of Global Computing systems like BOINC  and XtremWeb  . The second generation of Global Computing systems appeared in the form of generic middleware which allow scientists and programmers to design and set up their own distributed computing project. As a result, we have seen the emergence of large communities of volunteers and projects. Currently, Global Computing systems are among the largest distributed systems in the world. In the mean time, several studies succeeded to understand and enhance the performance of these systems, by characterizing the system resources in term of volatility and heterogeneity and by studying new scheduling heuristics to support new classes of applications: data-intensive, long running application with checkpoint, workflow, soft-real time etc... However, despite these recent progresses, one can note that Global Computing systems are not yet part of high performance solution, commonly used by scientists. Recent researches to fulfill the requirements of Desktop Grids for high demanding users aim at redesigning Desktop Grid middleware by essentially turning a set of volatile nodes into a virtual cluster and allowing the deployment of regular HPC utilities (batch schedulers, parallel communication libraries, checkpoint services, etc...) on top of this virtual cluster. The new generation would permit a better integration in the environment of the scientists such as computational Grids, and consequently, would broaden the usage of Desktop Grid.
The high performance potential of LSDS platforms has also raised a significant interest in the industry. Performance demanding users are also interested by these platforms, considering their cost-performance ratio which is even lower than the one of clusters. Thus, several Desktop Grid platforms are daily used in production in large companies in the domains of pharmacology, petroleum, aerospace, etc.
Desktop Grids share with Grid a common objective: to extend the size and accessibility of a computing infrastructure beyond the limit of a single administration domain. In  , the authors present the similarities and differences between Grid and Global Computing systems. Two important distinguishing parameters are the user community (professional or not) and the resource ownership (who own the resources and who is using them). From the system architecture perspective, we consider two main differences: the system scale and the lack of control of the participating resources. These two aspects have many consequences, at least on the architecture of system components, the deployment methods, programming models, security (trust) and more generally on the theoretical properties achievable by the system.
Beside Desktop Grids and Grids, large scale parallel computers with tens of thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of CPU cores are emerging with scalability issues similar to the one of Internet Computing systems: fault tolerance at large scale, large scale data movements, tools and languages. Grand-Large is gradually considering the application of selected research results, in the domain of large scale parallel computers, in particular for the fault tolerance and language topics.
Building a Large Scale Distributed System
This set of studies considers the XtremWeb project as the basis for research, development and experimentation. This LSDS middleware is already operational. This set gathers 4 studies aiming at improving the mechanisms and enlarging the functionalities of LSDS dedicated to computing. The first study considers the architecture of the resource discovery engine which, in principle, is close to an indexing system. The second study concerns the storage and movements of data between the participants of a LSDS. In the third study, we address the issue of scheduling in LSDS in the context of multiple users and applications. Finally the last study seeks to improve the performance and reduce the resource cost of the MPICH-V fault tolerant MPI for desktop grids.
The resource discovery engine
A multi-users/multi-applications LSDS for computing would be in principle very close to a P2P file sharing system such as Napster  , Gnutella  and Kazaa  , except that the shared resource is the CPUs instead of files. The scale and lack of control are common features of the two kinds of systems. Thus, it is likely that solutions sharing fundamental mechanisms will be adopted, such as lower level communication protocols, resource publishing, resource discovery and distributed coordination. As an example, recent P2P projects have proposed distributed indexing systems like CAN  , CHORD  , PASTRY  and TAPESTRY  that could be used for resource discovery in a LSDS dedicated to computing.
The resource discovery engine is composed of a publishing system and a discovery engine, which allow a client of the system to discover the participating nodes offering some desired services. Currently, there is as much resource discovery architectures as LSDS and P2P systems. The architecture of a resource discovery engine is derived from some expected features such as speed of research, speed of reconfiguration, volatility tolerance, anonymity, limited use of the network, matching between the topologies of the underlying network and the virtual overlay network.
This study focuses on the first objective: to build a highly reliable and stable overlay network supporting the higher level services. The overlay network must be robust enough to survive unexpected behaviors (like malicious behaviors) or failures of the underlying network. Unfortunately it is well known that under specific assumptions, a system cannot solve even simples tasks with malicious participants. So, we focus the study on designing overlay algorithms for transient failures. A transient failure accepts any kind of behavior from the system, for a limited time. When failures stop, the system will eventually provide its normal service again.
A traditional way to cope with transient failures are self-stabilizing systems  . Existing self-stabilizing algorithms use an underlying network that is not compatible with LSDS. They assume that processors know their list of neighbors, which does not fit the P2P requirements. Our work proposes a new model for designing self-stabilizing algorithms without making this assumption, then we design, prove and evaluate overlay networks self-stabilizing algorithms in this model.
Fault Tolerant MPI
MPICH-V is a research effort with theoretical studies, experimental evaluations and pragmatic implementations aiming to provide a MPI implementation based on MPICH  , featuring multiple fault tolerant protocols.
There is a long history of research in fault tolerance for distributed systems. We can distinguish the automatic/transparent approach from the manual/user controlled approach. The first approach relies either on coordinated checkpointing (global snapshot) or uncoordinated checkpointing associated with message logging. A well known algorithm for the first approach has been proposed by Chandy and Lamport  . This algorithm requires restarting all processes even if only one process crashes. So it is believed not to scale well. Several strategies have been proposed for message logging: optimistic  , pessimistic  , causal  . Several optimizations have been studied for the three strategies. The general context of our study is high performance computing on large platforms. One of the most used programming environments for such platforms is MPI.
Within the MPICH-V project, we have developed and published several original fault tolerant protocols for MPI: MPICH-V1  , MPICH-V2  , MPICH-Vcausal, MPICH-Vcl  , MPICH-Pcl. The two first protocols rely on uncoordinated checkpointing associated with either remote pessimistic message logging or sender based pessimistic message logging. We have demonstrated that MPICH-V2 outperforms MPICH-V1. MPICH-Vcl implements a coordinated checkpoint strategy (Chandy-Lamport) removing the need of message logging. MPICH-V2 and Vcl are concurrent protocols for large clusters. We have compared them considering a new parameter for evaluating the merits of fault tolerant protocols: the impact of the fault frequency on the performance. We have demonstrated that the stress of the checkpoint server is the fundamental source of performance differences between the two techniques. MPICH-Vcausal implements a causal message logging protocols, removing the need for waiting acknowledgement in contrary to MPICH-V2. MPICH-Pcl is a blocking implementation of the Vcl protocol. Under the considered experimental conditions, message logging becomes more relevant than coordinated checkpoint when the fault frequency reaches 1 fault every 4 hours, for a cluster of 100 nodes sharing a single checkpoint server, considering a data set of 1 GB on each node and a 100 Mb/s network.
Multiple important events arose from this research topic. A new open source implementation of the MPI-2 standard was born during the evolution of the MPICH-V project, namely OpenMPI. OpenMPI is the result of the alliance of many MPI projects in the USA, and we are working to port our fault tolerance algorithms both into OpenMPI and MPICH.
Grids becoming more popular and accessible than ever, parallel applications developers now consider them as possible targets for computing demanding applications. MPI being the de-facto standard for the programming of parallel applications, many projects of MPI for the Grid appeared these last years. We contribute to this new way of using MPI through a European Project in which we intend to grid-enable OpenMPI and provide new fault-tolerance approaches fitted for the grid.
When introducing Fault-Tolerance in MPI libraries, one of the most neglected component is the runtime environment. Indeed, the traditional approach consists in restarting the whole application and runtime environment in case of failure. A more efficient approach could be to implement a fault-tolerant runtime environment, capable of coping with failures at its level, thus avoiding the restart of this part of the application. The benefits would be a quicker restart time, and a better control of the application. However, in order to build a fault-tolerant runtime environment for MPI, new topologies, more connected, and more stable, must be integrated in the runtime environment.
For traditional parallel machines of large scale (like large scale clusters), we also continue our investigation of the various fault tolerance protocols, by designing, implementing and evaluating new protocols in the MPICH-V project.