The Scalable Computing Infrastructure Project (SCOPE)

University of Southern California
Information Sciences Institute

[Papers] [Software]

Project Staff

Project Goals

The SCOPE project has been developing and deploying distributed systems software and services that enable the sharing of large numbers of heterogeneous computing resources across the Internet. These services enable cooperating organizations to help one another in supplementing their computing capacities. In addition, these services enable individual users and organizations to purchase computing cycles from service providers on an as-needed basis, when the frequency of such demands does not justify investment in permanent capacity.

SCOPE provides a comprehensive environment for sharing computing resources by integrating the elements of resource allocation with resource discovery, resource selection based on assurance credentials, distributed authorization, and online payments. The Prospero Resource Manager (PRM), developed as part of earlier DARPA work, supports resource management for large distributed systems and serves as the foundation for SCOPE.

Technical Approach

Resource Discovery
PRM allows users to execute applications on processors managed by the users organization, or by a small set of organizations known by the user. To enable the job manager to find resources in a large, geographically and administratively distributed system, mechanisms are needed that will allow the job manager to discover appropriate resources. This is the "resource discovery" problem applied to processing resources and the same techniques used for information discovery can be applied.

System managers register with directory servers, providing aggregate information about the resources they manage and the characteristics of the service itself such as security and reliability guarantees and pricing. When the job manager is unable to find the processing resources it needs locally, it uses the resource directory service to identify system managers that can provide processing resources matching the needs of the job. Once appropriate system managers have been identified, the job will be executed as usual using PRM.

Authorization and Payments
When computing resources must be made accessible across organizational boundaries, distributed authorization is used to restrict resource access to particular users. To obtain access to resources, the job manager present authorization credentials to the system manager, proving the user's membership in a group listed in the service provider's authorization database. Ability to use computing services may also be based on ability to pay for the cycles consumed. In this case, a distributed accounting server issues credentials certifying that the client can pay for the service, and can provide payment to the service provider when the service is complete.

Related Projects

SCOPE leverages the work of several DARPA funded projects. Authorization and payment services are being developed as part of the SILDS project. Directory services from the GOST project are being utilized in developing the distributed computing resource directory. Assurance credentials being defined under the SOAP project enable users to select computing service providers based on quality and reliability of service.


Software for SCOPE is layered on top of, and will include extensions to the Prospero Resource Manager (PRM). PRM is being integrated with authentication and payment products (including Kerberos, Netcheque and Netcash). Resource discovery services are provided by the Prospero Directory Service .

SCOPE in the News

Recent Accomplishments (July 1998)

Technical Plan for 1998-99

Technology Transition

Technology transition for the SCOPE project has proceeded along several important avenues:

ISI has started protocols and API's along the standards track through the IETF, improving our ability to transfer the technology to others during and at the completion of our work. An Internet Draft has been prepared describing the authorization API that has been integrated with PRM.

The software developed by the SCOPE project has been made available for retrieval over the Internet where it may be picked up and used by those requiring scalable distributed computing services.

We have set up and deployed PRM nodes at ISI, on campus at the University of Southern California, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; deployment is underway at other locations on the Internet.

We have begun technology transfer of initial SCOPE results to the Globus Large-Scale Meta-computing Project at USC/ISI. In Globus, computations encompass multiple processes running on remote hosts in different administrative domains. We enhanced existing tools and scripts to parse and plot network bandwidth and latency data and made them available to the Globus effort. Further transfer of PRM and its tools to Globus is anticipated.

Former Students

  • Santosh Rao, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Shih-Hao Liu, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Grig Gheorghiu, Graduate Research Assistant

    last modified 07/17/98 sridhar