Workflow Experiment Management


Experiment Management is the general set of capabilities provided by FutureGrid so that users can easily execute distributed experiments. The primary capabilities are planning an experiment, executing the distributed tasks that make up an experiment, and monitoring and recording the effects of these tasks. Experiment management is layered atop other services such as resource provisioning (allocation and configuration of resources), remote execution, file transfer, and monitoring.

The workflow-based experiment management approach allows users to pre-plan their experiment in detail as a workflow and then to execute the experiment workflow in a batch manner. This approach is most suited to situations such as when an experiment needs to be run a number of times, when a set of experiments that are variations need to be run, or when a user wants to take advantage of the additional compute resources that are typically available during non-work hours.

Example Experiment 1

The first example is a simple web server load test, and the second example is running workflows on different sized Condor pools. The experiments are Pegasus workflows which decide when to provision, deprovision, and run experiment tasks. For experiments with a time axis. the workflows are pretty simple  because the provision and deprovision steps are most commonly set up as barriers which can only be passed if a certain number of resources are provisioned. A simple experiment would be:

  1. Request N resource from the cloud provider. Wait until the N resources are up and ready.
  2. Run experiment task
  3. Request deprovisioning of the resources. Wait until all the resources have been deprovisioned.

In the two examples below we are using a single provisioning tool called This tool takes two arguments, a lower bound and an upper bound for the number of necessary resources:

Usage: [options]
-h, --help show this help message and exit
--loglevel=LOG_LEVEL Log level.
 Valid levels are: debug,info,warning,error,
 Default is info.
-i IMAGE_NAME, --image-name=IMAGE_NAME
 The name of the Nimbus image to provision
? The minimum number of instances to have before exiting
? The maximum number of instances to have before exiting will query the Nimbus instance to see what number of resources are already provisioned. If the number of resources are below the lower bound, more resources will be requested. If the number of resources are above the upper bound, resources will be terminated until the upper bound has been met. Once the number of resources are within the bounds, the tool will exit, making it a tool which is easy to use as a barrier. However,? is not yet very generic: it does not make a distinction between resources provisioned with the tool and resources provisioned using other methods. uses the AWS REST interface to Nimbus, and is based on code examples from SC11 Nimbus tutorial.

The web server load test experiment is set up to test the performance of a web server. The server is regular web server, with Ganglia to collect the performance data. Clients are virtual machines running on the FutureGrid, each VM running 10 threads of?continuous wgets against the web server. The experiment was run with 1, 5 and 10 virtual machines, resulting in the web server being tested with 10, 50, and 100 clients accessing it?simultaneously. All the clients were accessing the same static file on the web server. The experiment workflow was:

  1. Provision 1 client
  2. Collect data for 15 minutes
  3. Increase the provisioned clients to 5
  4. Collect data for 15 minutes
  5. Increase the provisioned clients to 10
  6. Collect data for 15 minutes
  7. Deprovision all clients


The Pegasus workflow was a little bit more complex once staging and other auxiliary jobs were added, but we expect most of the experiment workflows to be pretty simple as they are bound by the time axis of the experiment. The workflow DAX generator and scripts can be found in the?web-server-work-load-20120227.tar.gz?file. Top level is a run-experiment script which generates a new workflow and submits it to the local Condor instance. Under tooling/, there are three scripts:

  • - Creates a DAX for the experiment
  • - As described above
  • stats - Script which is run during the collect stats states. In current form, it queries a Ganglia server for the bandwidth graphs.

The output is a set of stored graphs from Ganglia showing the bandwidth used by the web server. Other statistics can be collected by adding to the?stats?script.

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