“This project started,” says Julia Andreeva, “from some users saying that the Grid does not work.” Andreeva, who works in CERN’s IT department, coordinates a project that aims to show from the user perspective exactly what is working in a Grid and what is not.

The prototype for this project (Experiment Dashboard) began running in October 2005, monitoring jobs for the Compact Muon Solenoid physics experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

The Experiment Dashboard now provides a monitoring service for all four main LHC experiments. With it, researchers can access information about job processing, data management, test transfers and site efficiency.

At the beginning of this year the project reached significant milestones: putting a data management monitoring system for the ATLAS experiment into production and setting up job monitoring for the LHCb and ALICE experiments.

A special quality of this monitoring system is its ability to run on several Grid “flavours”. The LHC experiments are using three Grid infrastructures: Enabling Grids for E-sciencE, Open Science Grid and NorduGrid.

“Most monitoring tools are developed for a specific infrastructure,” says Andreeva. “The advantage of the Dashboard is that it provides transparent monitoring for all infrastructures used by the LHC community.”

This quality makes Experiment Dashboard attractive to other virtual organizations, outside the LHC community, says Andreeva. The project has collaborators from Academia Sinica Grid Computing Centre in Taiwan, Moscow University and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, and Laboratoire de l’accelérateur linéaire in France.

The web-based framework of Dashboard also is able to give data in a form to be read by humans (standard HTML web programming language) and in a form that can be read by software applications (such as Extensible Markup Language or Comma Separated Values).

Several areas of Experiment Dashboard are targeted for improvement in the coming months: “We want to make it more user friendly and simple to understand,” explains Andreeva. “And we want to add new sources of information to fill in areas where we are missing data. This will make it more accurate and comprehensive.”

In the long term, Andreeva says, the principal task of the Experiment Dashboard will be to adapt to the needs of the LHC experiments as the experiments themselves evolve.