The Open Overlays project is a collaboration between Lancaster University and Oxford Brookes. We aim to provide integrated middleware and networking support for future Grid applications that are: highly heterogeneous; highly collaborative; employ multiple media-types; are large scale, complex and dynamic; and are QoS-sensitive (i.e., need to react to changes in environmental conditions). We identify collaborative visualization as a prototypical e-Science application pattern that classically embodies these characteristics, but also expect Grid applications in general to increasingly exhibit these characteristics in the future.
Our approach to supporting the communications needs of such applications is through the novel concept of Open Overlays—application-level virtual networks that embody application-specific interaction semantics (e.g., based on multicast, streaming, publish-subscribe, peer-to-peer); are reflective and programmable; and are architected to integrate seamlessly with next-generation component-based middleware both horizontally (i.e., with generic system services) and vertically (i.e., with programmable networking services, where available). We will develop and evaluate Open Overlays that are scalable, extensible, run-time reconfigurable, and that embody self-managing, autonomic, techniques that render them inherently resilient and adaptive.
We expect our results to significantly influence next-generation, post-OGSA, Grid middleware and will disseminate the results via our extensive engagement with Grid-related activities. The research builds on a well-established collaboration between the partners who have complementary skills in Grid networking, overlay networks, middleware, and collaborative visualization.