Research Software Group update: Open Call round 6, integration testing Grid accounting software, and reviewing sustainability

Posted by n.chuehong on 21 October 2015 - 1:14pm

By Steve Crouch, Research Software Group lead

With Autumn just around the corner, September has seen some exciting activities within the Institute’s Research Software Group. We’re helping improve the testing of Grid accounting software used by the Large Hadron Collider, we’re assessing the sustainability of a web service that supports greater fitness, and we’ve had a record number of applications into the recently closed Open Call!

The Open Call

The sixth and latest round of the Institute’s Open Call closed at the end of September, and despite the usual slow summer months we received a total of 23 applications this time - a new record! We’re reviewing these applications now, and we’ll be letting applicants know the result of this review by the end of October.

So if you didn’t manage to get an application in this time, the good news is that another next round of the Open Call is planned to open in January 2016. We’ll keep you updated with details!

Integration testing Grid accounting software

We’re often asked how to improve the testing of software, and we’re working with the Research Infrastructure Group, based at Daresbury Laboratory and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, to help them improve the testing of their APEL software.

APEL is a key accounting tool used to collect usage data of Grid resources, and is deployed at hundreds of sites worldwide. Notably, it provides the accounting hub for the four Large Hadron Collider experiments at Cern, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, as well as infrastructure provided via the European Grid Infrastructure.

Given the huge number of production deployments of APEL, and the need to collect accurate usage information of Grid resources, ensuring the software is well tested prior to deployment is high priority. To supplement their existing testing practices, we’re helping to develop a virtual machine image to serve as an integration test platform. By automatically performing a build and end-to-end test of the deployed infrastructure, new developments and patches can be readily tested through a repeatable process. This will help ensure any issues are caught and resolved early, as well as making the overall testing of APEL more efficient.

Reviewing the sustainability of a fitness challenge service

It’s well known that even a small amount of exercise is good for you, and conveys a number of health benefits. The goFIT Challenge web service, developed within Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, helps participants to build up and track a healthy routine of increased movement over a twelve week period. Throughout September we’ve been reviewing the sustainability of the goFIT platform to help ensure it can continue to develop and extend this service into the future.

The service has supported numerous institutions to host their own goFIT Challenge, and new institutions are always interested in becoming part of the initiative. Having been developed over the last four years, goFIT has seen its share of enhancements and new features. With new capabilities planned and being requested, it’s important this ENAS BEST Practice Award-winning service will remain up to the challenge, so we’re conducting a sustainability review of the software and its development infrastructure which will help ensure its maintainability and extensibility in the future.