Virtualization of applications through Virtual Machine Monitors may be the key to solving the long standing issue of resource heterogeneity on the Grid. It can be difficult or often impossible to adapt an application to run on the specific operating system environment that may be available at different grid sites. Often applications also depend of uniformity of environment across grid sites. Virtualization can be used to address many of these problems by virtualizing a users environment and moving it out to the grid. More recently this strategy has been called Cloud Computing.
We have been involved with grid virtualization research since 2005 when we began researching the suitability of the Xen Virtual machine for HEP applications. Our early work was presented in the paper "Evaluation of Virtual Machines for HEP Grids'' at the Computing in High Energy Physics 2006 Conference in Mumbai India. We have shown that indeed the Xen virtual machine performs well enough to be suitable for the demands of HEP applications.
Recently, in a collaborative effort with the NRC Sussex Campus we have investigated deployment of HEP applications using Globus Virtual Workspaces (GVW) and presented the work in a paper, "Deploying HEP Applications Using Xen and Globus Virtual Workspaces" at Computing in High Energy Physics 2007 in Victoria BC. We have developed small test implementations of the Globus Virtual Workspace Service at Both UVic and NRC Sussex. We collaborate closely with the GVW developers in discussions, testing and bug reporting and several of our group are listed as community contributors.