Exploiting the ALICE HLT for PROOF by scheduling of Virtual Machines
The HLT (High-Level Trigger) group of the ALICE experiment at the LHC has prepared a virtual Parallel ROOT Facility (PROOF) enabled cluster (HAF - HLT Analysis Facility) for fast physics analysis, detector calibration and reconstruction of data samples. The HLT-Cluster currently consists of 2860 CPU cores and 175TB of storage. Its purpose is the online filtering of the relevant part of data produced by the particle detector. However, data taking is not running continuously and exploiting unused cluster resources for other applications is highly desirable and improves the usage-cost ratio of the HLT cluster. As such, unused computing resources are dedicated to a PROOF-enabled virtual cluster available to the entire collaboration. This setup is especially aimed at the prototyping phase of analyses that need a high number of development iterations and a short response time, e. g. tuning of analysis cuts, calibration and alignment. HAF machines are enabled and disabled upon user request to start or complete analysis tasks. This is achieved by a virtual machine scheduling framework which dynamically assigns and migrates virtual machines running PROOF workers to unused physical resources. Using this approach we extend the HLT usage scheme to running both online and offline computing, thereby optimizing the resource usage.