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This paper presents BIGS the Big Image Data Analysis Toolkit, a software framework for large scale image processing and analysis over heterogeneous computing resources, such as those available in clouds, grids, computer clusters or throughout scattered computer resources (desktops, labs) in an opportunistic manner. Through BIGS, eScience for image processing and analysis is conceived to exploit coarse grained parallelism based on data partitioning and parameter sweeps, avoiding the need of inter-process communication and, therefore, enabling loosely coupled computing nodes (BIGS workers). It adopts an uncommitted resource allocation model where (1) experimenters define their image processing pipelines in a simple configuration file, (2) a schedule of jobs is generated and (3) workers, as they become available, take over pending jobs as long as their dependency on other jobs is fulfilled. BIGS workers act autonomously, querying the job schedule to determine which one to take over. This removes the need for a central scheduling node, requiring only access by all workers to a shared information source. Furthermore, BIGS workers are encapsulated within different technologies to enable their agile deployment over the available computing resources. Currently they can be launched through the Amazon EC2 service over their cloud resources, through Java Web Start from any desktop computer and through regular scripting or SSH commands. This suits well different kinds of research environments, both when accessing dedicated computing clusters or clouds with committed computing capacity or when using opportunistic computing resources whose access is seldom or cannot be provisioned in advance. We also adopt a NoSQL storage model to ensure the scalability of the shared information sources required by all workers, including within BIGS support for HBase and Amazon's DynamoDB service. Overall, BIGS now enables researchers to run large scale image processing pipelines in an easy, af- ordable and unplanned manner with the capability to take over computing resources as they become available at run time. This is shown in this paper by using BIGS in different experimental setups in the Amazon cloud and in an opportunistic manner, demonstrating its configurability, adaptability and scalability capabilities.
Date of Conference: 8-12 Oct. 2012