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This paper deals with our novel Desktop Grid platform Cohesion, which is designed to lay the system-level foundations for advanced parallel programming models and application specific frameworks. Cohesion specifically integrates functionality for parallel computing, e.g. a scalable group model and methods for collective communication. It is designed as an extensible layered architecture built around an industrial strength microkernel component. As an initial use case, we present an aspect-oriented framework for parallel discrete optimization built on top of Cohesion.