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Earth Observation Scientific Workflows in a Distributed Computing Environment

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Geospatially Enabled Scientific Workflows offer a promising toolset to help researchers in the earth observation domain with many aspects of the scientific process. One such aspect is that of access to distributed earth observation data and computing resources. Earth observation research often utilizes large datasets requiring extensive CPU and memory resources in their processing. These resource intensive processes can be chained; the sequence of processes (and their provenance) makes up a scientific workflow. Despite the exponential growth in capacity of desktop computers, their resources are often insufficient for the scientific workflow processing tasks at hand. By integrating distributed computing capabilities into a geospatially enabled scientific workflow environment, it is possible to provide researchers with a mechanism to overcome the limitations of the desktop computer. Most of the effort on extending scientific workflows with distributed computing capabilities has focused on the web services approach, as exemplified by the OGC's Web Processing Service and by GRID computing. The approach to leveraging distributed computing resources described in this article uses instead remote objects via RPyC and the dynamic properties of the Python programming language. The Vistrails environment has been extended to allow for geospatial processing through the EO4Vistrails package (). In order to allow these geospatial processes to be seamlessly executed on distributed resources such as cloud computing nodes, the Vistrails environment has been extended with both multi‐tasking capabilities and distributed processing capabilities. The multi‐tasking capabilities are required in order to allow Vistrails to run side‐by‐side processes, a capability it does not currently have. The distributed processing capabilities are achieved through the use of remote objects and mobile code through RPyC.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Earth Observation Science and IT, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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