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Case Studies

This is where you go for the somewhat longer and more comprehensive stories about other organizations using DbVisualizer and what they gain.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)

One of the large projects the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is involved in is TeraGrid, a distributed network of high-performance computers that is used for parallel computations to solve large-scale scientific problem. Michael Shapiro used DbVisualizer to reverse engineer and visualize a TeraGrid database that he assumed responsibility for in his role as Senior Systems Engineer at NCSA.

How do you figure out how complex databases are structured when you get the responsibility for extending functionality in systems that you didn’t originally design yourself? That was an important question for Michael Shapiro when he joined the TeraGrid project at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) some eight years ago. TeraGrid is a distributed supercomputing resource that combines the computational power of high-performance hardware spread over 11 sites all over the US, and Michael’s database keeps track of projects, individual usage and proposals for new projects to run on TeraGrid.

"I was given responsibility for the TeraGrid central database, and one challenge was to understand it so I could continue to develop it. One tool that I thought would help was one that could produce an ER diagram of the database. I looked around and found DbVisualizer. DbVisualizer enables me to reverse engineer to produce ER diagrams. It also has some other features like the Navigator that I can set up by just clicking that looked very useful," said Michael Shapiro, Senior Systems Engineer at NCSA.

The database that tracks all the science projects that run on TeraGrid is developed on Postgres. Usage information for all TeraGrid resources is reported by all the participating sites and entered into this central database. The database is hosted in San Diego, with development and maintenance at NCSA in Illinois.

"I searched the web for a tool that could reverse engineer a Postgres database. A lot of people were recommending DbVisualizer, and it was a lot easier to use than other products I found and tried." Michael Shapiro, Senior Systems Engineer, National Center for Supercomputing Applications

"The ability to reverse engineer and visualize an existing database may appear to be a pretty narrow use for a tool, but it was important to me for initially exploring the database, as well as communicating the structure to other members of the teams involved in the project. I am convinced that there are similar scenarios in most large organizations that rely on complex databases. In fact, I think this is an area where even more functionality could be warranted," said Michael Shapiro.

Now that he is several years into the job, Michael Shapiro and the team he is on have put a significant mark on this database. DbVisualizer was important to understand the initial design that was done before he took over the responsibility for the further development of this database.

About NCSA
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, provides powerful computers and expert support that help thousands of scientists and engineers across the country improve our world.

With the computing power available at NCSA, researchers simulate how galaxies collide and merge, how proteins fold and how molecules move through the wall of a cell, how tornadoes and hurricanes form, and other complex natural and engineered phenomena.

NCSA was established in 1986 as one of the original sites of the National Science Foundation's Supercomputer Centers Program. For more than 20 years, NCSA has been a leader in deploying robust high-performance computing resources and in working with research communities to develop new computing and software technologies.

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TeraGrid is a distributed, massively parallel supercomputing structure, combining resources at eleven partner sites to create an integrated, persistent computational resource.

Using high-performance network connections, the TeraGrid integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and high-end experimental facilities across the US. Currently, TeraGrid resources include more than a petaflop of computing capability and more than 30 petabytes of online and archival data storage, with rapid access and retrieval over high-performance networks. Researchers can also access more than 100 discipline-specific databases. The TeraGrid is the world's largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research.

TeraGrid is coordinated through the Grid Infrastructure Group (GIG) at the University of Chicago in partnership with Indiana University, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the National Institute for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Purdue University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Texas Advanced Computing Center, and University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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