rPath, which develops a technology aimed to simplify application distribution and management through virtual appliances, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been using rBuilder to deliver virtual appliances to both scientists’ desktops and computational clouds. The use of rBuilder in these environments is supposed to reduce the effort required to support users and allows researchers to take advantage of underutilized computational resources.
CERN turned to virtual appliances to facilitate the analysis of data created by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments. The complete software environment needed by the LHC applications is assembled by rBuilder and distributed to run as a virtual machine on physicists’ desktops. Virtual appliances provide a consistent application environment for the LHC applications while, at the same time, allowing scientists to use their desktops for analysis, regardless of operating system.
rPath’s other high-profile customer, the DOE, is exploring the concept of using virtual appliances to provide customized environments for scientific applications. Scientific applications are turned into virtual appliances using rPath’s rBuilder. The “Science Clouds” project provides resources capable of hosting multiple scientific appliances using the Globus Virtual Workspaces software. Scientists submit their virtual appliances to any available resource, knowing that the application environment is controlled and isolated from the underlying system. By relying on portable appliances, the scientists can leverage the resources of science clouds, and seamlessly move to commercial providers, such as Amazon’s EC2, when additional resources are needed.