Cern, the world's largest nuclear research laboratory, is evaluating Sonic Software's SonicMQ with a view to making it the nucleus for information dissemination around the complex.
Cern's goal is to modernise and combine a variety of different control systems. Projects often take decades to set up and complete, so Cern's IT specialists try to minimise future integration problems by selecting standard technologies which they expect to last.
SonicMQ's use of the Java Messaging Standard (JMS) has been an important consideration.
"We wanted to use the Java environment," said Kris Kostro, Cern IT project manager, who explained that Java had been selected for new application developments. "JMS, which uses XML, also looks to be a good messaging standard," he added.
But he maintained that Cern's own Corba-based tightly coupled system would also be used, partly because there was no C [programming language] JMS standard and many systems have been developed using C in the past, and partly because JMS was more loosely coupled.
"JMS is loosely coupled because messages may be received faster than the receiving systems," said Danny Goodall, SonicMQ's marketing director for Europe, Middle East & Africa. "SonicMQ stores them away until processing is available. This hub-and-spoke, many-to-many approach reduces the complexity of messaging."
He explained that, because it was deigned for ebusiness messaging, SonicMQ handled additional complexities inherent in web transmission such as end-to-end security, availability, tunnelling through firewalls and standards such as XML, Secure Sockets Layer, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, Public Key Infrastructure and Simple Object Access Protocol. This went well beyond the limited scope of the JMS specification, he said.
An early test for the software is likely to be data gathering and dissemination from 48,000 devices including thousands of alarms.
About 100 bytes of data is collected from one in four of these devices every 15 seconds, which translates to 48,000 100 byte messages every minute. Each message has to be fully processed and responded to as needed before 15 seconds has elapsed.
Famous for its 27 kilometre underground Large Electron Collider, and being the birthplace of the web, Cern relies on funding from governments in Europe and beyond.
But the complex is an IT manager's nightmare. It supports 2,000 dual-processor servers and 5,000 client systems with 100Tb of online IDE disk storage in addition to the 48,000 online devices. Systems use Unix and latterly Linux with a Java graphical user interface that has replaced the defunct Motif Unix interface.
Potential data capacity runs to petabytes (thousands of terabytes). A 300Tb near-line tape library of 50,000 cartridges is robot-controlled, giving thousands of physicists rapid access to years of research information.
With many other projects in progress, and links to academic establishments around the world, reliable high-volume throughput messaging is vital.
Sonic Software was formed at the beginning of 2001 by rapid application development and database vendor Progress Corporation. SonicMQ was a spin-off from its shelved Aptivity Java application server software project.
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