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Globus Online File Transfer Service Debuts

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The creators of Globus Online have announced the general availability of the cloud-hosted high-performance, secure file transfer service. Globus Online makes the grid easy to use by eliminating the need for complex, custom IT infrastructure to manage large-scale data movement tasks.

Globus Online automates the mundane, but error-prone and time-consuming activity of moving files across wide-area networks. Users of the service can "fire-and-forget" their file transfer request and Globus Online will manage the entire operation, monitoring performance, retrying failed transfers, and recovering from faults automatically whenever possible so that users focus on their research.

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) was an early adopter of Globus Online and is now recommending the service to its users as a secure, fault-tolerant file transfer solution. "We are excited to offer a simplified, yet reliable data movement method to our users," says David Skinner, group leader at NERSC. "As the collection of Globus Online endpoints grows, our users will be using the highest performing WAN-tuned systems with simplicity."

Globus Online works across and between any servers that have GridFTP protocol software installed, including systems at: U.S. Department of Energy facilities such as NERSC, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory; large-scale Globus based cyberinfrastructure in the U.S. and abroad, such as TeraGrid, Open Science Grid, European Grid Infrastructure, and Australian Research Collaboration Service; as well as many campus grids. Users can rapidly access this international pool of resources using Web, command line and REST interfaces, without installing any software.

"We are in an era of explosive data growth, where requirements for reliable data movement are more demanding, and distributed environments are more complex. Globus Online goes a long way towards helping users navigate this 'perfect data storm' without expensive, custom-built solutions," says Ian Foster, Director of the Computation Institute, and grid visionary. "Building on our fifteen-year heritage with the Globus Toolkit, we continue to challenge ourselves to deliver innovative solutions for large-scale distributed computing."

Commonly used file transfer mechanisms, such as the secure copy (scp) command found on most systems, require complex configuration for optimal performance and frequent attention from the user to deal with transient faults—perhaps the most frustrating aspect of distributed data management. Globus Online transparently handles faults by re-trying failed transfers and provides detailed logs for users and service operators to understand the reasons behind any failed transfers.

Managing security across multiple domains has traditionally been a challenge for grid users. Globus Online manages multiple security credentials automatically on behalf of users. When a certificate expires, for example, Globus Online suspends the file transfer, notifies the user, and automatically resumes when a valid credential is received.

In its current release Globus Online allows users to move files between systems with GridFTP installed. Upcoming releases will add support for HTTP, opening up the service to any file system with access to a Web server, as well as InCommon, allowing members of many academic and research institutions to access the service using their existing campus logins.

Globus Online is a collaborative effort. Development and operation of the service is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, Argonne, and the University of Chicago.

The team that created Globus Online is housed at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and includes collaborators from University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.


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