SOA keeps CERN lights on

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has revealed it is using service oriented architecture (SOA) based software to monitor and manage potential Large Hadron Collider (LHC) emergencies.

The massive particle-bashing experiment that went live in Geneva only a couple of months ago implemented SonicMQ enterprise messaging systems from Progress Software to form the communications backbone of its Technical Infrastructure Monitoring (TIM) system.

The TIM system is used to collect, evaluate, store and distribute information around the clock, to ensure the experiment's smooth running. Eric Lienard, CERN technical infrastructure manager told IT PRO this includes 2.1 million items every day from 150 different systems and 60,000 different measuring points.

"Without SonicMQ, the TIM team would be blind in the operations room," said Lienard. "We rely on its stability to identify problems with the technical infrastructure and the 27 kilometres of cooling equipment and cabling that run the length of the collider."

It was essential the TIM system be fully developed and tested prior to the LHC's launch, so SonicMQ was installed last year. "It was the most reliable product we tested, having used a free broker before that," he added. "And it has been reliable and stable 99 per cent of the time since, with one incident last year, which is peanuts really."

Lienard explained that his team's support of the experiment is indirectly key to the LHC's success. He said SonicMQ unites disparate data and systems without hampering CERN's research efforts by underpinning their ability to get systems back and up running as quickly as possible in the event of a fault.

"It's all about speed of detection and action we can stop and restart systems in a matter of seconds with the software," he said.

Lienard also said that, while systems related to the Greek hackers' incident that downed its website this September, are separate to TIM, the messaging broker could potentially be extending to monitor the related parts of CERN's IT infrastructure as well.

For more on the IT behind the CERN project, click here to read our feature.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.