The Grid  is a useful technology for sharing computational and storage resources between centers to speed up their research activities. It is a mature technology, widely used by the scientific community, but sometimes its use can be complex for final users. The main problem is that typical Grid front-ends are command line interfaces (CLI) which implies that final users have to memorize complex commands in order to start using the Grid services. This is a big limitation, because a small number of researchers have the skills needed to use a CLI without a specific training. This fact has caused rejection of Grid technology for many users. Nowadays the Grid community is making a lot of efforts to develop Science Gateways and Grid portals to make easier the use of Grid environments. Almost all of these developments are focused in the computational capabilities of the Grid, making easier the process of sending and monitoring jobs, the creation of job workflows, or the retrieval of job outputs.
These projects usually ignore the storage capabilities of the Grid, which present the same problems that the computational capabilities: the complexity of its use. Clarabox is a platform designed for allowing easy management of files stored in a Grid environment using the LCG File Catalog (LFC). The architecture of Clarabox is divided in three main components: (1) a LFC PHP library which has been developed from scratch, (2) a REST-compliant web service which exposes the methods of the PHP library, and (3) a web front-end which uses the web service to provide a user-friendly interface for managing easily the data stored on a Grid infrastructure even for users without previous Grid technology knowledge.
The design of the web front-end has been inspired by the most used file browsers (like Windows Explorer or Nautilus), so its use will be familiar for anyone with a basic experience with computers. Clarabox makes possible to download and upload files, to browse in the LFC file structure, to make replicas of the files and all the expected functions implemented in a normal file browser. Also Clarabox will manage the security in a transparent way, so the user does not need to have previous knowledge about Grid certificates in order to start storing their data in a Grid storage service. This work describes the architecture of Clarabox, technical details of the development process of all of its components, how difficulties appeared under the development were managed and the future of the platform.
- César Suárez Ortega
- José Miguel Franco Valiente
- Guillermo Díaz Herrero
Gisela-Chain conference, At Mexico City
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